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News 12 Dec 10

Serbs Divided on Kosovo Election Day

Just two Kosovo Serbs are believed to have cast their vote in the country’s troubled north on December 12.

Lawrence Marzouk

But while the ballot boxes remained empty in Kosovo’s Serb-majority north, voters in Serb enclaves elsewhere are believed to have turned out en masse.

A Balkan Insight monitoring team in the Serb-majority area, around the divided town of Mitrovica, found just two votes cast out of a population of 60,000 Kosovo Serbs, as the mobile polling stations closed at 4pm.

One vote was cast in Leposavic and the other in the Bosniak Mahala area of Mitrovica.

Despite trouble in northern Kosovo during the run-up to the Kosovo parliamentary election, including the murder of a Bosniak election official on Wednesday, the poll passed without major incident.

All stations, which were mostly set up in vans, opened at 7am, although three were closed early because of protests.

In Banska, the polling station was surrounded by a group of more than 50 Serbs at around midday. The road to the village was also blocked, two men were arrested and the station was moved.

Early on Sunday morning, a KFOR office in the northern municipality of Zubin Potok was raked by gun fire.

Belgrade had told Kosovo Serbs that conditions were not right for them to vote in the Pristina-run poll, but turnout is believed to have been high outside the north, including the Serb enclaves of Gracanica and Strpce.

In Gracanica, the municipal election commission predicted that 40 per cent of people would vote.

More than 15 per cent of the 1.6 million eligible voters in Kosovo had visited the ballot box by midday, according to the Democracy in Action monitoring mission, which has almost 5,000 monitors across the country.

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