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Incumbant President's Party Winning in Kosovo Municipal Elections - 2002-10-29

First official election results in Kosovo show President Ibrahim Rugova's Democratic League of Kosovo winning a majority.

But Mr. Rugova did not celebrate. Instead he declared a day of mourning to honor an ethnic Albanian mayor and two body guards killed Sunday in what was seen as politically motivated violence.

Kosovo's President Ibrahim Rugova urged the ethnic Albanian majority to mourn a mayor who was killed south of the capital, Pristina, in an incident that has overshadowed this weekend's municipal elections.

Local officials said that Uke Bytyci, the mayor of Suva Reka and a senior official of Mr. Rugova's party, the Democratic League of Kosovo, was shot to death Sunday.

Two others, apparently his bodyguards, were also killed as the mayor tried to calm a dispute between sympathizers celebrating his party's victory in the Suva Reka area, and a rival political group.

Monday's day of mourning added to Western disappointment over the low turnout of voters and the apparent lack of cooperation among ethnic groups to find a consensus on everyday life issues such as a new school or new sewage system.

The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe or OSCE, which monitored Kosovo's balloting said little more than half of the eligible voters of Kosovo's ethnic Albanian majority bothered to vote.

Yet, in a move expected to be welcomed by Western leaders, more radical parties of former rebels who fought against Serb troops in the 90s failed to gain a majority in most of Kosovo's 30 municipalities.

The OSCE said that the more moderate Democratic League of Kosovo led by President Rugova, got a clear majority in 11 municipalities.

It will also be able to rule in several other places in coalition with smaller parties, making it still the strongest political force in most of Kosovo's 30 municipalities.

The radical Democratic Party of Kosovo won in at least four municipalities. It could gain another two or more in a coalition with other allies.

The smaller ethnic Albanian Alliance for the Future of Kosovo, finished a distant third. In four Serb-dominated municipalities there was reportedly no clear winner as votes were distributed among several parties.

United Nations officials have already suggested that the outcome of this weekend's election will make it more difficult and perhaps impossible to grant Serbs and other minorities more influence over local affairs.

It is also expected to further delay the return of at least 100,000 Serb refugees living outside the troubled province.