Kosovo Serbs in the north have rejected Pristina's municipal elections, citing concerns over security and autonomy. The move threatens to deepen the already fragile relationship between the Kosovo Serbs and Albanians
Kosovo Serbs on Sunday rejected the municipal elections organised by the Pristina authorities in the north of the territory, where representatives of the Serb community resigned from local institutions in November.
The boycott of the elections in the four northern municipalities where Serbs are in the majority risks aggravating the tensions that have persisted in recent months between the Kosovar government and the Serbs.
The elections come more than a month after the EU announced an agreement on the normalisation of relations between Belgrade and Pristina reached in Ohrid (northern Macedonia), but which the two parties have not signed.
In the 19 polling stations in the north, 45,000 voters, about 95% of whom are Serbs, can cast their ballots.
"I hate all those who participate in these elections (...) because they recognise the Albanian state (independent Kosovo, editor's note)," said Milan Bulatovic, a Serb resident of northern Mitrovica.
Kosovar Prime Minister Albin Kurti, for his part, regretted that "Kosovo Serb citizens are not using their right to vote" because of pressure from Belgrade.
Serbia does not recognise the independence proclaimed in 2008 by its former province.
Originally scheduled for 18 December, the elections were postponed to 23 April after a series of violent incidents in the north.
The Serb boycott would theoretically allow Albanian formations to take power in the four northern municipalities.