Serbia to hold local polls in Kosovo despite UN objections

Serbia will move forward with preparations to hold local elections in Kosovo in May, a government journal said Monday, defying U.N. objections.

Serbia to hold local polls in Kosovo despite UN objections
U.N. officials in Kosovo have told Serbia it cannot hold the vote because it would breach the U.N. mandate for Kosovo, which declared independence from Serbia in February.

But the decision to hold the local elections May 11 was published in Serbia's government gazette Monday - a sign Serbia is ignoring the U.N. objections.

The U.N.'s top official in Kosovo, Joachim Ruecker, has said only the U.N. has authority to organize elections in Kosovo. But he has invited Serbia to help organize U.N.-run local elections in Kosovo's Serb-inhabited areas sometimes later this year.

Such elections would be held in five Kosovo municipalities where Serbs are a majority. Overall, around 90% of Kosovo's 2 million people are ethnic Albanians.

But according to a Serbian government decree published in the official gazette, Belgrade intends to organize local elections in 16 Kosovo municipalities, including the capital, Pristina.

Serbia will hold early general elections on May 11, after its coalition government collapsed amid disagreements within its leadership over how to respond to Kosovo's declaration of independence.

In the past, the U.N. has allowed Serbs to vote in Serbia's parliamentary and presidential elections in Kosovo, but local elections are seen as undermining international authorities since they deal directly with Kosovo's internal municipal arrangements.

The U.N. has administered Kosovo since 1999 when North Atlantic Treaty Organization air strikes stopped Serbia's military etthnic cleansing against Albanians.

Last Mod: 15 Nisan 2008, 09:08
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