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Kosovo Serb Voters Expected to Reject Pristina Rule

February 15, 2012

VOA News

Ethnic Serbs in northern Kosovo cast ballots on the final day of a referendum on whether to recognize the country's ethnic Albanian-dominated government.

The Serbian community is expected to overwhelmingly reject the Kosovo government in the two-day vote that ends Wednesday. Ethnic Serbs have ignored Pristina's efforts to extend its authority into the northern areas since Kosovo gained independence in 2008.

Some voters expressed their defiance at polling stations, including this Serbian man from the ethnically divided city of Mitrovica.

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 were expected to turnout for the vote. Election results are expected next week, but will carry 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 fourth anniversary of its independence from Serbia on Friday.

Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.

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