Minority Serbs in a tense northern Kosovo city cast ballots under tight security on Sunday, redoing a vote that was derailed when masked men attacked staff and destroyed voting materials. Special police units in bulletproof vests backed by members of the European Union police and justice mission and armed NATO peacekeepers stood outside polling stations to prevent a repeat of the electoral violence that stopped the Nov. 3 poll in ethnically divided Mitrovica. The incident was blamed on hardline Serbs who fear the vote endorses Kosovo’s 2008 secession from Serbia. Kosovo authorities said Sunday that voter turnout to elect a mayor of the Serb-run part of the city and members of the local council was 22 percent.
Serb participation in the vote was a key part of an EU-brokered deal to normalize relations between Serbia and Kosovo, which is majority ethnically Albanian.
The vote sets up a mayor from each side of the ethnic divide, a step the Kosovo government sees as necessary to prevent more strife. Serbia says the vote gives minority Serbs more self-rule and paves the way to set up an assembly of Serbs across Kosovo.