Serbs reject Kosovo Albanian rule in referendum

Counting ballots in Kosovska Mitrovica, northern Kosovo, 15 Feb 12 The vote confirmed Kosovo Serb defiance of the Pristina government

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Ethnic Serbs in northern Kosovo have rejected rule by the territory's ethnic Albanian majority, in a referendum criticised by Serbia and the EU.

Kosovo Serb officials said 99.7% of voters said "no" to the Kosovo government in Pristina.

About 90% of Kosovo's population is ethnic Albanian, but Serbs dominate a northern area bordering on Serbia.

Kosovo Serbs have ignored Pristina's decisions and obstructed the EU and Nato law and order mission in Kosovo.

Correspondents say the two-day referendum may complicate Serbia's efforts to develop a dialogue with the Pristina authorities and to further the Serbian bid to join the EU.

Kosovo's declaration of independence from Serbia in 2008 is not recognised by Belgrade.

The Kosovo parliament in Pristina denounced the Serbs' referendum this week in a resolution, saying it "does not produce any legally and politically binding effect and as such is not valid".

Kosovo has about 120,000 ethnic Serbs, of whom 40,000 live in the north and the rest in scattered enclaves to the south, AFP news agency reports.

Serbian President Boris Tadic said the referendum was harmful to Serbia's interests.

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