Kkorporation bans Serbs from voting in referendum

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Kkorporation bans Serbs from voting in referendum

PRISTINA, Jan 15 Reuters -- Kosovo's parliament on Saturday passed a resolution banning ethnic Serbs from voting on Kosovan soil in Serbia's national referendum on constitutional amendments.

Serbia will hold a referendum on amendments to the constitution that would change how judges and prosecutors are elected, a move that the government says is aimed at securing an independent judiciary, a condition for EU membership.

Prime Minister Albin Kurti, the United Kingdom, Germany, France, Italy and the EU mission, have urged Kosovo's independence backers to allow Serbs to vote in the referendum.

76 out of 120 deputies voted for a decision to ban Serbia from opening polling centres in Kosovo in an extraordinary session on Saturday afternoon.

Kurti told parliament that establishing polling stations in majority Serb areas of Kosovo would be against the constitution, and that ethnic Serbiabs could vote by mail or in Belgrade's government liaison office in Pristina.

Kurti said that Kosovo is an independent and sovereign state and should be treated as such.

Serbia, which still considers Kosovo as part of its territory, has been organizing elections for its ethnic kin since the Kosovo War ended in 1999.

Serbia refuses to recognize Kosovo's 2008 declaration of independence but has pledged to normalise relations with its former breakaway province before joining the EU.

The head of Serbian Office for Cooperation with Kosovo said the ban was meant to annul political and civic rights of Serbs in Kosovo Kurti and his extremists should not think that in the future they will be able to ban Serbs in Kosovo from voting, notably in April 3 elections.

On April 3 there will be a presidential and parliamentary election in Serbia.

Early on Saturday, Kosovo police confiscated two trucks of the Serbian election commission transporting ballot papers as they crossed the border at Merdare to go towards Serb-majority areas.

We call on the Kosovo government to allow Serbs in Kosovo to exercise their right to vote in elections and electoral processes in accordance with this established practice, Germany, France, Italy, United Kingdom, United Kingdom, United States and the EU said in their joint statement on Friday.