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Kosovo postpones local election in ethnic-Serb-dominated north

Kosovo postpones local election in ethnic-Serb-dominated north

The election was due as ethnic Serb representatives resigned to protest a ban on Serbia-issued car licence plates.

Kosovo has postponed an area election due subsequent week in 4 municipalities with a predominantly ethnic Serb inhabitants, in an effort to defuse current tensions there which have additionally brought on relations with neighbouring Serbia to deteriorate additional.

The announcement on Saturday got here after Kosovo President Vjosa Osmani met her nation’s political leaders and determined to carry the vote within the northern municipalities on April 23 subsequent yr.

On the identical day, Serbia’s President Aleksandar Vucic stated he would formally request NATO permission to deploy Serbian troops in northern Kosovo, whereas conceding this was very unlikely to be granted.

Such a transfer might dramatically enhance tensions within the area.

The polls in Northern Mitrovica, Zubin Potok, Zvecan and Leposavic have been due on December 18 after ethnic Serb representatives resigned their posts in November to protest in opposition to a call by Kosovo’s authorities to ban Serbia-issued car license plates. Serb lawmakers, prosecutors and law enforcement officials additionally deserted native authorities posts.

Rigidity within the north has been excessive forward of the scheduled vote. This week, unknown gunmen shot and wounded a Kosovo legislation enforcement officer. Some election centres have been additionally broken, whereas capturing was heard within the 4 municipalities.

Kosovo’s inside minister Xhelal Zvecla stated on Saturday that after the arrest of a former Serb police officer accused of attacking election centres and officers, some roads within the north have been blocked by “extremist teams”.

Kosovo police presence was not too long ago elevated in these areas and the European Union’s rule of legislation mission, or EULEX, has been current with its law enforcement officials, too.

Kosovo proclaimed independence from Serbia in 2008. However Belgrade, supported by Russia and China, has refused to recognise Kosovo’s statehood.

Vucic stated on Saturday his authorities would formally ask the commander of the NATO-led peacekeeper mission in Kosovo for permission to deploy Serbian troops within the north, however added that he “has no illusions that this shall be accepted”.

The request had been heralded on Friday by Ana Brnabic, Serbia’s prime minister, who claimed that the lives of minority Serbs in Kosovo have been underneath risk.

Serbian officers declare a United Nations decision that formally ended Belgrade’s bloody crackdown on majority Kosovo Albanian separatists in 1999 permits for some 1,000 Serb troops to return to Kosovo. NATO bombed Serbia to finish the struggle and push its troops out of Kosovo.

NATO-led peacekeepers in Kosovo for the reason that struggle must give a inexperienced mild for Serb troops to go there, one thing extremely unlikely as a result of it will de facto imply handing over the safety of Kosovo’s Serb-populated northern areas to Serbian forces.

Kosovo Prime Minister Albin Kurti’s workplace stated any such transfer from Serbia can be “an act of aggression” and a sign of “Serbia’s tendencies” to destabilise the area.

The EU has urged Serbia and Kosovo to resolve their dispute and normalise relations to be eligible for membership within the bloc.

Bodo Weber, senior affiliate on the Democratization Coverage Council, advised Al Jazeera a deployment permission by NATO would “imply the whole defeat and reversal of political growth and progress over the past 20 years, and notably the final decade, on reconciling relationships between Kosovo and Serbia, and the steps that Serbia had made within the body of the Kosovo-Serbia dialogue on recognising the fact of an impartial Kosovo.”

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