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Serbs in Kosovo north suspend pre-election activities

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

PRISTINA, May 28 (Xinhua) -- The mayors of four Serb-dominated municipalities in the north of Kosovo, Mitrovica north, Leposavic, Zvecan and Zubin Potok suspended on Wednesday all pre-election activities for June 8 general elections.

The reason behind is their disagreement with some of the latest decisions of Kosovo's Central Election Commission (CEC).

The decision for suspending pre-election activities occurred on the day when the election campaign for early parliamentary officially started.

According to the four mayors in the north, the recent CEC decisions clearly violated the laws on elections as well as the minority rights.

"Taking into account the changes of CEC which relate to the composition of the councils of voting centers, which were obtained contrary to the ethnic composition of the population in our municipalities, but also to lists, as well as in line with the regulations in force which provides CEC timelines and guidelines, we've decided to suspend all the election activities for an indefinite period," read a press release signed by the four mayors.

According to them, Albanians are eligible to be part of elections councils in polling centers in the north, thus the same should be applied also for Serbs interested to be part of councils in the south of Kosovo.

Another complain of the four Serb mayors is the presence of Kosovo "state symbols" in the ballots. They want a status neutral participation in elections therefore they do reject the presence of Kosovo's "state symbols."

"Given that the electoral process in all democratic countries is a unique one, a European standard is to have on the ballot only the symbols of the Election Commission," said the mayors.

They stressed that Serbs from the north want to take their fate into their own hands, and be part of the elections, but what the CEC is doing, according to them, is an example of "racism and discrimination."

They offered Pristina electoral authorities some time to reconsider these decisions, otherwise they warned they will reconsider their participation in elections.

Serb political parties alongside Albanian and other communities' parties have been certified by the CEC for general elections. Serbs participation is regarded as a positive approach in the process of reintegration after years of separation between the two major communities in Kosovo.

Serbia categorically refuses to recognize Kosovo's unilateral declaration of independence in 2008, though most leading European countries and the United States have exchanged diplomats with Kosovo.

Kosovo is currently supervised by NATO peacekeepers and the European Union. In Kosovo, ethnic Albanians make up 90 percent of the population.

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/xinhua-news-agency/140528/serbs-kosovo-north-suspend-pre-election-activities