Kosovars take to polls in critical vote

December 12, 2010 11:05

1 minute read.

PRISTINA, Kosovo — Kosovars were set on Sunday to vote in the first general poll since the country's declaration of independence from Serbia in 2008, a critical election already marred by ethnic tension that many fear will split the world's newest country.

Serbia has called for Kosovo's Serb minority to boycott the vote in protest of its declaration of sovereignty, a vow of independence that it has refused to acknowledge. That has deepened fears of the country's partition into a Serb north and an ethnic Albanian south, and a reverse of decades of efforts by the West to calm ethnic tensions in the region.

In a sign of concern, police spokesman Besim Hoti said assailants in Kosovo's north fired overnight at a house used by NATO peacekeepers. No one was injured. Hoti said a letter threatened to attack those who could take part in the Kosovo poll was also found at the site.

The incident comes just days after attackers ambushed and executed a Bosniak leader loyal to Kosovo's ethnic Albanian-dominated institutions. He had been involved in organizing the weekend poll in Mitrovica, a town divided between Albanians and Serbs since the end of the 1999 war.

Some 1.6 million voters are eligible to vote for 29 political parties, coalitions and citizens' initiatives to enter Kosovo's 120-seat parliament. Ten of those seats are reserved for minority Serbs, some of whom are running in the poll. Polls opened at 0600 GMT (1 a.m. EST) and close 1800 GMT (1 p.m. EST).

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