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Kofi Annan appeals for violence-free electoral campaign in Kosovo

Kofi Annan appeals for violence-free electoral campaign in Kosovo

With the Kosovo-wide vote six weeks away, Secretary-General Kofi Annan has appealed to all communities to participate peacefully in the United Nations-led election process.

"This is a defining moment for Kosovo, and I call on all political leaders and representatives of civil society to ensure that the upcoming election campaign is free of violence," Mr. Annan says in his quarterly report to the Security Council on the activities of the UN Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) released today at UN Headquarters. "It is imperative that, on the eve of provisional self-government, all Kosovo leaders understand that their responsibilities entail obligations to all the people of Kosovo."

Mr. Annan says all minorities have a "crucial obligation" to participate in the UNMIK-led election process and in the 17 November vote. "It is imperative that all communities participate in the elections and in the ensuing institutions of provisional self-government if they wish to have a say in the daily running of their own affairs."

The Secretary-General commends the Yugoslav authorities, and particularly President Vojislav Kostunica, for their encouragement to the Kosovo Serb community to register, resulting in a "significant number" of registrations. He also lauds UNMIK's efforts to encourage minorities to participate in public life.

In addition to preparing for the November election, UNMIK has been focusing on accelerating the transfer of authority to municipalities, helping build institutions at the central level and working to create a solid economic basis. A crucial priority is to lay the financial groundwork for the upcoming provisional self-government to begin economic management with a balanced budget, Mr. Annan writes.

Continuing inter-ethnic violence and criminal activity remain a major concern, Mr. Annan says. However, despite some difficulties, UNMIK has made significant strides in strengthening security and law and order - by establishing a new police and justice pillar to coordinate international and local judges and police officers, draft anti-terrorism legislation and carry out anti-crime and border security operations.