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and my sister-in-law»
The election story you probably haven't heard, from last weekend: Five years after a massive bombing campaign led to five years of UN control, the future of Kosovo remains in doubt, at best. Riots and slaughter left 19 dead and 800 wounded as recently as last spring, gunfights break out between members of the UN contingent , and now a significant percentage of the population has boycotted the elections in fear for their safety.
One of the key post-election priorities in Kosovo should be to ensure more harmonious relations between the province's ethnic communities, UNMIK chief Soren Jessen-Petersen said Monday (25 October). Describing Saturday's vote for Kosovo's 120-seat parliament as a "turning point" for the UN-run province, he said it had highlighted the need for a "dramatic improvement" in conditions for Kosovo Serbs.
Fewer than 1 per cent of the Kosovo Serbs took part in the province's second parliamentary elections since the end of the 1998-1999 conflict. Citing security concerns following the mid-March riots, Belgrade officials and the Serbian Orthodox Church urged the community to boycott the poll.
Though they successfully buried it, even the AP had a tough time trying to paint this story as anything but bleak:
PRISTINA, Serbia-Montenegro (AP) -- Britain's European affairs minister appealed to Kosovo's leadership Tuesday to improve security for the U.N.-run province's beleaguered Serb minority, which boycotted the weekend's elections.
Dennis McShane urged ethnic Albanian leaders to implement a set of standards created by U.N. officials, including progress in areas such as rule of law and protection of minorities.
U.N. officials have made improvement on such issues a prerequisite for opening talks on Kosovo's final status. Progress is to be reviewed in mid-2005.
"Please move forward on standards," McShane said. "Find a guarantee that no Serb living in Kosovo has to walk in fear, no Serb has to worry about his church being destroyed, no Serb has to worry about his house or feel to be under threat."
There will be few immediate repercussions outside of Kosovo, of course, since "underreported" is an understatement when it comes to the international failure in Europe.
In contrast (in contrast as far as results, since reporting was also somewhat low-key on this one) comes this story from Afghanistan:
HERAT, Afghanistan, Oct. 24 -- President Hamid Karzai has won a majority of votes in Afghanistan's election, clinching a five-year term and becoming the country's first democratically elected president, according to preliminary results released Sunday.
With 94.3 percent of the votes counted, Karzai was winning 55.3 percent, or 4.2 million, of the votes cast, enough to avoid a runoff, the Joint Electoral Management Body reported. Any showing of less than 50 percent would have required a runoff between the top two vote-getters, according to the Afghan constitution. Even if all the votes that are currently uncounted went to his rivals, Karzai would still win a majority. An official announcement may be made later this week.
Karzai's closest rival, his former education and interior minister, Yonus Qanooni, conceded defeat. Qanooni was far behind with 16.2 percent, or 1.2 million, of the votes cast, the results showed.
Qanooni acknowledged his defeat, according to his spokesman, Sayed Hamid Noori, the Reuters news agency reported.
And what of the USA? This story certainly isn't encouraging :
Supporter: I?m just worried there?s going to be riots afterwards.
Elizabeth Edwards: Uh.....well...not if we win.
How does one respond to such a bleak pronouncement? Or on related issues, how should any American react to stories of possible intimidation, or fraud at the polls? What is the proper response to Democrat's demands for UN monitors for the US elections? The time for words has passed; there are now two options for action next Tuesday:
Stay home Kosovo style, or vote, like the free people of Afghanistan.
I mailed my ballot from Baghdad. Where's your voting booth?
One wonders why there's some hesitancy to turn Iraq over to the U.N.Posted by SteveO at October 27, 2004 06:15 PM
I can't ever get trackbacks to work right. I've linked to this one and I've used the graphic in an article this morning. I plan to do one each day to the election.
Great program.Posted by RTO Trainer at October 28, 2004 08:47 AM Hide Comments | Show/Add Comments in Popup Window(2) | (Note: You must refresh main page to view newly posted comments here)