The United States congratulates the people of Kosovo on holding their first post-independence general elections -- a significant milestone in the development of a multiethnic democracy. Kosovo Prime Minister Hashim Thaci's Democratic Party of Kosovo won more than 33 percent of the vote in a field of 29 parties, according to preliminary results from Kosovo's Election Commission. The leading opposition party, the Democratic League of Kosovo, garnered over 23 percent, while the Self-Determination Movement ran third with just over 12 percent. Prime Minister Thaci now has about 90 days to form a government.
Independent observers were present at polling stations throughout Kosovo and called the voting process largely "effective and efficient," though there were some irregularities during the vote count in several polling locations. American Ambassador to Kosovo Christopher Dell observed 17 polling stations, including in Srbica, where he noted that the ballots in the box exceeded the number of signatures in the voters' book. The U.S. urges the Kosovo elections commission to address the few serious irregularities that occurred. The United States also regrets the atmosphere of threats, intimidation, and violence from Serbian sources directed for weeks against Kosovo Serbs in northern Kosovo that prevented many there from exercising their democratic rights.
Kosovo has come a long way since NATO troops intervened in the region in 1999 to stop a brutal campaign of ethnic cleansing against Kosovo's ethnic Albanian population by Serb troops. Following the war, Kosovo was placed under United Nations administration. In 2008, the majority Muslim and ethnic Albanian territory of Kosovo declared its independence from Serbia. Seventy-two countries, including the United States and most of its NATO allies, recognize Kosovo's independence. Serbia and Russia are notable exceptions.
Kosovo's elections were an expression of democracy and the United States is heartened that so many Kosovars demonstrated their commitment by casting ballots across the country. Kosovo's future lies in Europe and these elections will help advance the country and its people, and the entire region toward long-term stability and prosperity.