Kosovo Serb protest calls for voting rights in Serbia’s election

Kosovo Serbs with anti-government banners protest in Mitrovica.
Kosovo Serbs with anti-government banners protest in Mitrovica. Copyright AP Photo/Bojan Slavkovic
Copyright AP Photo/Bojan Slavkovic
By AP with Euronews
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Demonstrators gathered in Mitrovica with banners reading “We want our human rights”.


Hundreds of ethnic Serbs in Kosovo have called on the government to let them vote in neighbouring Serbia's general election.

Demonstrators gathered in Mitrovica -- 45 kilometres north of Pristina -- where most of Kosovo’s ethnic Serb population lives.

Some held banners reading “We want our human rights” and “Kurti won’t drive us away from Kosovo".

Hundreds of people also protested in Gracanica, another ethnic Serb area located 10 kilometres from Kosovo’s capital.

Prime Minister Albin Kurti has said Kosovo and Serbia need to have a preliminary agreement on holding the election to allow Kosovan Serbs to vote.

In a letter to the European Union, Kurti said that Serbia was "illegally" trying to hold an election in Kosovo "as if our government did not exist”.

Kosovo declared independence from Serbia in 2008 -- a move recognised by most EU nations -- but not by Belgrade, despite 11 years of EU-brokered negotiations.

In previous Serbian elections, ethnic Serbs in Kosovo have been allowed to vote under monitoring by international observers. But the measure was not put in place when Serbia held a referendum earlier this year.

The United States, France, Germany, Italy and the UK have expressed “concern at the risk of escalation of violence” on Friday and have urged demonstrators to protest peacefully.

Western countries also called on Kosovo and Serbia “to act with restraint and refrain from any rhetoric or action that could increase tensions.”

Serbia is due to hold its general election on April 3.

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