No Serb polls in public Kosovo buildings

PRISTINA, Sep 6, 2000 -- (Reuters) Kosovo's UN administrator said on Tuesday that he would not allow Yugoslav federal elections to be organized in public buildings in the Serbian province.

Bernard Kouchner, head of the UN Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK), said on Monday that presidential and parliamentary elections Belgrade has set for September 24 would not be democratic so he could not back them but would be obliged to take security measures to prevent violence on polling day.

Asked on Tuesday if he would allow Serbs to open polling stations in the province under de facto international control, Kouchner said:

"No, certainly not. Not in the public buildings, not officially, absolutely not...I don't want any confrontations...I'm in charge of law and order, I don't want any lack of security."

He declined to specify whether this meant he would allow elections to be held in other premises.

Kosovo has been under de facto international rule since Yugoslav forces withdrew in June 1999 following the NATO air campaign. The province remains legally part of Serb-dominated Yugoslavia.

Yugoslav elections and the presence of campaigning Serbian politicians in Kosovo are likely to enrage the province's ethnic Albanians, who want complete independence from Belgrade.

Kosovo's remaining minority Serbs have been the targets of numerous attacks by ethnic Albanians over the past year. About 100,000 are still in the province, many in heavily guarded enclaves.

Kouchner said the Yugoslav elections would certainly not be fair and called them a provocation.

"When I say it is a provocation, it is a provocation and certainly a manipulation also....We are not going to help them on that issue, at all," he said.

A high official of Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic's party said on Tuesday the Serb leader would go to Kosovo, but did not specify when that would be.

"Milosevic will surely visit Kosovo...It depends on the strategy of his campaign when that will happen and where he will go," Milomir Minic was quoted by independent Beta news agency as saying.

Last week, a UN official said Milosevic would be apprehended if he set foot in the province. Milosevic was indicted by a UN tribunal for war crimes his forces allegedly committed in the province last year.

Original article