Serb majority in N. Kosovo boycotts vote on removing ethnic Albanian mayors

Ethnic Serbs in Kosovo's tense north on Sunday boycotted an extraordinary local election on whether to oust their ethnic Albanian mayors in a territory riddled with deadly tensions.

The vote could have paved the way for the election of Serbs to the mayoral posts after the appointment of the ethnic Albanians sparked violence in the Belgrade-backed region with a Serb majority.

But only 253 out of some 45,000 eligible voters cast ballots, the Central Election Commission said (CEC).

For the election to be valid turnout has to be above 50 percent.

Therefore the vote has failed, CEC chair Kreshnik Radoniqi said.

"The boycott implies the continuation of the 'status quo'... Serbs in the north continue to be an instrument in the hands of Belgrade for political bargaining," the Koha Ditore daily paper said online.

Tensions in Kosovo's troubled north have been smouldering for months, following local elections won by the ethnic Albanian mayors in April last year.

Ethnic Serbs boycotted the elections and Serb protesters later clashed with Kosovo police and NATO troops as the Albanian mayors tried to take office. Around 30 NATO peacekeepers were injured.


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