Kosmet Serbs reject Pristina authority
16. February 2012. | 06:57 11:35
Serbs in northern Kosovo have rejected the authority of Kosovo's ethnic Albanian rulers. Kosovo Serb official say 99 percent of voters in a two-day referendum had voted 'no' to recognizing Pristina's government. The two-day referendum has no legal weight and has been dismissed by both Belgrade and Pristina as well as the international community.
Serbs in northern Kosovo have rejected the authority of Kosovo's ethnic Albanian rulers.
Kosovo Serb official say 99 percent of voters in a two-day referendum had voted 'no' to recognizing Pristina's government.
"Out of those who voted, 99.74 per cent answered 'no' to the referendum question" if they accept Pristina institutions, Ljubomir Radovic, a spokesman of the referendum commission told reporters after all the votes were counted on Wednesday.
According to a release issued by the referendum committee, 48 per cent of the voters in Kosovska Mitrovica, Zvecan and Zubin Potok took to the polls on the first day of the referendum.
Sixty-one percent of eligible voters in three north Kosovo municipalities cast their ballot by noon on Wednesday, whereas in the municipality of Leposavic, where the referendum held only Wednesday, the turnout has been 25 percent, the referendum commission released.
By noon, 6,541 people voted in Kosovska Mitrovica, that is 64.3 percent of the registered voters, 4, 169 people (52 percent) in Zvecan, and 3,241 (62 percent) in Zubin Potok. In Leposavic, where polling stations are open only on Wednesday, 3,060 people cast their ballot.
In all four Serb-dominated municipalities in northern Kosovo, where 75 per cent of voters cast ballots out of the 35,500 eligible to vote, only "69 votes were marked 'yes'," Radovic said.
However, the two-day referendum has no legal weight and has been dismissed by both Belgrade and Pristina as well as the international community.
Citizens of Kosovska Mitrovica, Zvecan and Zubin Potok, where polling stations opened on Tuesday, and the population of Leposavic, where polls are open on Wednesday only, should cast their votes during a referendum without international monitoring in 82 polling stations.
On Wednesday morning, 33 polling stations opened in Lepsovic and 11,000 people there were eligible to vote, according to the referendum commission.
Krstimir Pantic, the Serb mayor of the town of Mitrovica, said the referendum would strengthen the position of Serbs in the north, as well as that of Serbs south of the Ibar river in Kosovo.
“I believe they [the Serbs elsewhere in Kosovo] will soon organise a referendum too and show that none of us has given up on Kosovo and Metohija,” Pantic told local media.
Krstimir Pantic, said the international community would now have to take the opinions of the Serbs in the north of Kosovo into account.
"We expect less pressure to be exerted on northern Kosovo by the international community, and for the international community to start changing its approach to solving our many problems," he said.
But the initiative does not have the support of the Serbian government, even though Belgrade strongly opposes Kosovo’s declaration of independence.
The municipal assembly called the polls in Leposavic although municipal president Branko Ninic did not agree with the decision.
The referendum is being held without international observers, since no international organization responded to the call, and the OSCE and UNMIK said that the referendum is not valid, and will therefore have no legal repercussions.
The referendum is going on almost without any foreign observation, as only two members of the International Crisis Group are paying occasional visits to certain polling stations.
The referendum committees called on international missions in Kosovo to monitor the referendum but neither the missions, nor OSCE or UNMIK were willing to observe the voting because they consider it a non-binding process which entails no legal consequences.
The European Commission stated that the referendum brings no solutions and is unnecessary and counter-productive.
Serbian President Boris Tadic stated that the referendum in northern Kosovo-Metohija is detrimental to Serbia's interests.