Albanians back Serbia election democrats

Jan. 4, 2007 at 1:36 PM
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PRESEVO, Serbia, Jan. 4 (UPI) -- A leader of southern Serbia's ethnic-Albanian democratic coalition said the group will support a pro-Western Serbian bloc in parliamentary elections.

Riza Halimi, leader of the Party for Democratic Activity, said the ethnic-Albanian coalition, ending a 10-year boycott, should win at least two votes in the 250-seat Serbian parliament in elections set for Jan. 21, Belgrade media reported.

The coalition of two ethnic-Albanian parties in the Presevo Valley, a region bordering with Serbia's mainly ethnic-Albanian Kosovo province, says it will advocate plans to decentralize local administration and improve the political and economic status of the Albanian minority of about 70,000.

Halimi said he hoped a new Serbian government would be formed without support of the Socialist party of former Serbian strongman Slobodan Milosevic and the ultra-nationalist Serbian Radical party of former paramilitary chief Vojislav Seselj, now standing trial for war crimes in the U.N. tribunal in The Hague.

Kosovo's 1.8 million ethnic-Albanians have been boycotting Serbia-organized elections since 1989, when Milosevic abolished the province's autonomy, while most of Kosovo's 100,000 Serbs participate in Serbian elections but refuse to take part in Kosovo's ethnic-Albanian institutions.

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