In a blow to international efforts to forge multiethnic harmony in Kosovo, the vast majority of Serbs boycotted the province's general elections. \nElection officials estimated turnout in Saturday's election at 53 percent, but the absence of Kosovo Serb voters underscored the deep divisions between the province's ethnic Albanian majority and Serb minority. Local Serb leaders had called for a boycott, citing a lack of security. \nTurnout in the general elections three years ago was about 64 percent. Saturday's vote represented the second general election in beleaguered Kosovo, where an unemployment rate estimated at 60 percent has exacerbated political and economic woes in the province. \nKosovo's ethnic Albanians viewed Saturday's elections as means to further their goal of securing independence. Kosovo Serbs and Belgrade want the province to remain part of Serbia-Montenegro, the successor to Yugoslavia. \nLawmakers elected Saturday are likely to lead the province into UN-led talks on its future. The talks are expected to begin the middle of next year if the province makes progress in fields such as the rule of law and protection of minorities. \nPreliminary results were expected today; final results a week later. \nAn independent group that monitored ballot counting in 17 percent of the polling stations said the results appeared to be similar to those from the election held three years ago. \nThe Pristina-based Council for the Defense of Human Rights and Freedoms projected that Kosovo's biggest party, the Democratic League of Kosovo led by moderate President Ibrahim Rugova captured 47 percent of the vote -- too little to govern alone. \nThe projection indicated that the Democratic Party of Kosovo placed second with 27 percent, followed by the Alliance for the Future of Kosovo with 8 percent. Both parties are led by former rebel leaders. \nIbrahim Makolli, a CDHRF official, said the projection had a margin of error of 0.5 percentage point. \nKosovo was placed under UN and NATO rule in 1999, after an alliance air war ended former Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic's crackdown on independence-minded ethnic Albanians. \nThe 1998-99 war killed an estimated 10,000 people, mainly ethnic Albanians. \nThough the UN mission here holds ultimate power, the 120-seat assembly elected Saturday -- and the president and government it chooses -- holds some authority. Ten assembly seats are reserved for the Serb minority -- about 100,000 of Kosovo's 2 million people. \nThe election came seven months after mobs of ethnic Albanians attacked Serbs and their property in riots that killed 19 people and injured more than 900 others. The violence was the worst since the 1998-99 Kosovo war. \nAfter the voting ended, Kosovo's top UN administrator, Soeren Jessen-Petersen, said he thought many Kosovo Serbs were pressured to avoid the polls. \nBut despite "the low turnout, we have legitimate elected representatives of the Kosovo Serbs," he added. \nSerb leader and boycott organizer Milan Ivanovic estimated the Serb turnout at three-tenths of a percent, and described the boycott as successful.
Reporters Without Borders has accused the Algerian government of taking advantage of the COVID-19 pandemic to “settle scores” with independent journalists, including those covering long-running anti-government protests. In a statement signed with Algerian non-governmental organizations, the watchdog on Thursday called for the immediate release of its correspondent, Khaled Drareni, who has been in pretrial detention since Sunday after being charged with inciting an unarmed gathering and endangering national unity. Drareni has been arrested several times for covering the “Hirak” anti-government protests held in the capital, Algiers, every Friday since February last year. Imprisoning people during a pandemic is “an act of physical endangerment,”
Vietnam has lodged an official protest with China following the sinking of a Vietnamese fishing boat that it said had been rammed by a Chinese maritime surveillance vessel near islands in the South China Sea. The Vietnamese fishing vessel, with eight fishermen onboard, was fishing near the Paracel Islands (Xisha Islands, 西沙群島) on Thursday when it was rammed and sunk by the Chinese vessel, the Vietnamese Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement posted on a government Web site yesterday. All of the fishermen were picked up by the Chinese vessel alive and were transferred to two other Vietnamese fishing vessels
DIVIDED YOUTH: There is a belief that overseas students see themselves as superior, which is compounded by perceptions of their extreme wealth and multiple nationalities Chinese students flying home from overseas to escape the COVID-19 pandemic face a frosty reception from sections of the public who view them as wealthy, spoiled — and potentially contaminated. The number of officially reported cases in China has dwindled dramatically over the last month, but the country is now taking drastic steps to try and stem a second wave of infections brought in from abroad. With most international flights canceled and nearly all foreigners barred from entering the country, the vast majority of returnees are Chinese nationals, including many students. The situation has exposed animosities over class and privilege in Chinese society,
An Australian graduate student arrested for spying and expelled from North Korea last year said that he was threatened with a firing-squad execution and told not even US President Donald Trump could save his “sorry arse.” Among the crimes Alek Sigley was accused of committing was posting a picture of a toy tank on Instagram, which his interrogators told him was military espionage. Sigley, 30, was studying for a master’s degree in Korean literature at Kim Il Sung University in Pyongyang when he went missing in June last year, sparking alarm. A fluent speaker of Korean, he had written articles for several publications