Kosovo Serb Voters Reject Pristina Rule

Posted February 16th, 2012 at 5:25 am (UTC-5)
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Serbs in northern Kosovo cast a near unanimous rejection of a referendum on whether to recognize the country's ethnic Albanian dominated government after two days of voting.

The Kosovo Serb electoral commission said 99.7 percent of voters in the four Serbian communities in northern Kosovo opposed the referendum.

Ethnic Serbs have ignored Pristina's efforts to extend its authority into the northern areas since Kosovo gained independence in 2008.

Prior to the polls closing Wednesday, some voters expressed their defiance at polling stations, including this Serbian man from the ethnically divided city of Mitrovica.

“My vote at the moment defends my interests, the interests of my family and my state Serbia on Kosovo and Metohija.''

For an unidentified female voter, it was a clear no to Kosovo rule.

“We don't want to be part of Kosovo, we stay in Serbia, we don't need Kosovo.''

Pristina, Belgrade and the international community have dismissed the vote, which many see as a threat to Serbia's bid for European Union membership. Serbian President Boris Tadic has said the referendum is harming the interests of the country.

The EU has said Serbia must find a way to end ethnic unrest along its boundary with northern Kosovo if it wants its bid for EU membership to move forward.

Some 35,000 voters in flashpoint Serb towns and enclaves participated in the vote that carried no legal weight.

Analysts warn the vote could further stoke ethnic tensions in an already volatile region.

Kosovo is 90 percent ethnic Albanian, while Kosovo Serbs dominate in areas bordering Serbia. The country is preparing to celebrate the 4th anniversary of its independence from Serbia on Friday.