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Serbs hold banned assembly

Article published on the 2008-06-29 Latest update 2008-06-29 11:42 TU

Serbia's Kosovo Minister Slobodan Samardzic (R) and Bishop Amfilohije (Centre)(Photo: Reuters)

Serbia's Kosovo Minister Slobodan Samardzic (R) and Bishop Amfilohije (Centre)
(Photo: Reuters)

Kosovo's Serbs on Saturday inaugurated an assembly which symbolises their rejection of the province breaking away from Serbia in March. The UN and the new country's authorities dubbed the move illegal, while Serb nationalists declared that it would continue until "real negotiations" on the region's status take place.

The Assembly of the Union of Municipalities of the Autonomous Province of Kosovo is made up of representatives elected in Serbia's general and municipal elections in May.

"The parliament adopts legislative measures, resolutions and has the right to propose for adoption new laws important to the life of citizens... to the parliament of the Republic of Serbia," a statement adopted at the meeting declared.

Thirty of the 53 members elected met for the inaugural session in the ethnically divided town of Mitrovica.

Most are members of the Democratic Party of Serbia, which led the outgoing Serbian government, and the even more nationalist Serbian Radical Party.

The UN has run Kosovo since a Nato bombing campaign in 1999 drove out Serbian forces who were fighting separatists from the ethnic-Albanian majority.

Several ministers from the outgoing Serbian government attended, including ex-Minister for Kosovo Slobodan Samardzic, who that the body would exist until "real negotiations on the status of Kosovo can be organised".

Kosovo's deputy Prime Minister Ram Manaj described the assembly as "an attempt to create a virtual parliament which will continue to manipulate the Serbs".