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Serbs vote in polls seen too close to call - Europe - Al Jazeera English

Serbs are voting in presidential, parliamentary and local elections in a contest that gives them a sharp choice between a liberal government and one that would include former nationalist allies of the late Slobodan Milosevic.

Sunday's voting comes after a campaign dominated by economic issues, in which President Boris Tadic, a member of the Democratic Party, is pitted against conservative populist Tomislav Nikolic.

Surveys put Tadic and Nikolic neck-and-neck in the presidential race, with their parties also running close in the parliamentary elections.

The elections are seen as a turning point for Serbia because for the first time in almost two decades they are focused on the economy rather than the Balkan conflicts that left Belgrade internationally isolated for much of the past two decades.

Both camps support Serbia's EU membership bid while breakaway Kosovo, which overshadowed the last polls, has been pushed to the background by concerns about Serbia's stumbling economy and record unemployment.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sun May 6th, 2012 at 02:44:32 PM EST
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Serbia retaliates with arrests on eve of election (SETimes.com)

Serbian authorities said on Friday (May 4th) they have arrested at least eight Albanians in a sweep of suspects accused of war crimes during clashes in Serbia in 2001, apparently in retaliation for the acquittals of Fatmir Limaj, an ally of Kosovo Prime Minister Hashim Thaci, and three other former Kosovo Liberation Army members charged with committing war crimes against Serbs.

The arrests, in the southern Serbia municipality of Bujanovac, include five people accused of war crimes against civilians, two for resisting police and one for possession of an illegal weapon, Interior Minister Ivica Dacic said. They come two days before Serbia conducts nationwide elections.

The only Albanian member of the Serbian Parliament, Riza Halimi from Preseva Valley, said the arrests are an attempt to deteriorate a peaceful electoral process. He said that seven out of eight arrested are political activists with his Party for Democratic Action, and one is a candidate in local elections.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sun May 6th, 2012 at 02:45:58 PM EST
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