AFP Registration Suspended for Displaced Kosovo Voters in Serbia
Registration Suspended for Displaced Kosovo Voters in Serbia
BELGRADE, Aug 1, 2001 -- (Agence France Presse) The registration of
displaced people so they can vote in Kosovo's November 17 legislative
elections was suspended in central Serbia on Tuesday over a dispute between
Belgrade and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe
(OSCE), a Serbian official said.
"All the registration bureaus for the displaced from Kosovo were closed,"
Natasa Mandic of the Serbian refugee committee told Beta news agency.
She said the OSCE had failed to respond to Belgrade's demand for copies of
the registration lists once they are completed.
The Serbian refugee agency and the OSCE began on Monday registering the
estimated 200,000 Serbs and other non-Albanians who have fled Kosovo for
Serbia and Montenegro since June 1999.
Belgrade says it wants the final registration lists so it can have an exact idea of
how many displaced Kosovars are actually living in Serbia.
OSCE officials in the Kosovo capital Pristina said the agency had refused
Belgrade's demand for reasons of "confidentiality".
"The government of Serbia wants to have a copy of the completed registration
forms but the OSCE is concerned about the protection of this data," OSCE
spokesman Sven Lindholm told AFP.
He said the head of the OSCE mission in Kosovo was to meet Serbian Deputy
Prime Minister Nebojsa Covic, Belgrade's official in Kosovo, later on Tuesday
in the Yugoslav capital.
Covic said on Tuesday it did not matter whether the information came as a
photocopy or in some other form but insisted it was "very important to have a
list" of people who registered as displaced.
The UN estimates about 200,000 Serbs and other non-Albanians have fled
Kosovo for other parts of Yugoslavia since June 1999, when NATO forces
drove out the Yugoslav army to halt a crackdown by former Yugoslav president
Slobodan Milosevic on the province's ethnic Albanian majority.
Most of them have found shelter in Serbia itself, while some 1,300 Serbs and
other non-Albanians have gone missing from the province since the arrival of
Certain political parties in Belgrade, and the estimated 80,000-100,000 Serbs
living in NATO-guarded enclaves in the province, have linked their participation
in the polls to the return of the refugees to Kosovo and an improvement in
security and rights for their community.
Serb political parties boycotted the municipal elections organized by the UN
Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) in October 2000, citing worsening security
conditions for Serbs and other non-Albanians in the province.
The overwhelmingly ethnic Albanian population in Kosovo wants to see the
troubled province gain independence from Yugoslavia.