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Ex-rebels' group leads in Kosovo election preliminary result

12 Juin 2017

Turnout up until 3 p.m. (1300 GMT; 9 a.m. EDT) was about 28 percent, 2.5 percent higher than the previous polls three years ago, according to Daka.

Although voting was to close at 7pm, some polling stations remained open after the cut-off time to allow people who were still waiting in queues to cast their ballots. He also said that Kosovo organised good elections and congratulated all citizens for good elections.An exit poll published by TV Klan Kosova says that PDK-AAK-Nisma coalition won Sunday's election with 40 per cent of the vote, followed by the Vetevendosje with 30 per cent and LDK-AKR-Alternativa with 27 per cent of votes.

Fireworks illuminate the main square after the coalition of former ethnic Albanian rebel commanders claimed victory in general elections in Kosovo capital Pristina on Monday, June 12, 2017.

The final results for the new 120-seat parliament are expected later in the week.

There is the thorny issue of the border demarcation deal with Montenegro that brought down the previous government; the continuation of fraught talks with Serbia, which denies Kosovo's existence as a state; and potential war crimes trials of some senior political leaders.

Opinion polls suggest Mr Mustafa's bloc is trailing a coalition led by a former Prime Minister Ramush Haradinaj.

About 1.9 million Kosovars, almost half a million of whom live overseas, are registered to vote in the third election since Kosovo declared independence in 2008. Its independence has been recognized by more than 100 countries, including Western powers, but not by Serbia, Russia, or several European Union members including Spain.

Among the contenders is a coalition of three major parties run by former rebel commanders.

The new government will now face the hard task of battling unemployment - which is currently at 30 percent - and strike a border demarcation deal with Montenegro.

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"Those who were in power should not come again, they are incriminated too much".

Haradinaj, known as "Rambo" for his military prowess during the war, has said the talks should only move forward if Serbia recognises Kosovo - an unlikely prospect.

Local and worldwide observers are monitoring the vote.

Opposition parties say that deal meant a loss of territory, over 8,000 hectares (20,000 acres), or less than 1 percent of Kosovo's land.

Five Serb minority parties are competing for votes of Serbs from Kosovo, in order to decide who will get the 10 reserved places for Serb parties in the parliament. The former Cabinet, global experts and the country's Western backers dispute that claim.

Other key priorities the next government faces include establishing better control over privatization and creating a functioning war crimes court and prosecution office, which would start the process of sidelining wartime leaders from political and public life. Committed to secure brighter future for #Kosovo Ramush Haradinaj (@haradinajramush) June 11, 2017 But a victory for him could complicate relations with Serbia, which has issued an global warrant for his arrest over alleged war crimes.

Yet the biggest issues surrounding the vote are a pair of agreements signed in 2015: one setting the border with Montenegro and another with Serbia that increases powers held by ethnic Serbs in Kosovo.

Llazar Semini reported from Tirana, Albania.

Ex-rebels' group leads in Kosovo election preliminary result