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Kosovo Serbs Form Rival 'Parliament,' Vow Vote Boycott

Eight-year-old Rinesa Koshi heads home past a Serbian flag as she crosses a bridge that separates the ethnically divided sections of Mitrovica, in Kosovo.
Members of Kosovo’s ethnic Serb minority have formed their own assembly and vowed to boycott elections in an effort to protest steps by Belgrade to recognize the government in Pristina.

The July 4 move by Serbs in the northern part of Kosovo challenges an April deal by the European Union forcing Serbia to normalize relations with Kosovo, a former Serbian province.

Kosovar Serb leader Slavko Stevanovic said formation of the new parliament is meant to demonstrate "that Kosovo is still part of Serbia."

The EU-brokered deal called for Kosovo Serbs to create an association of Serb majority municipalities in Kosovo after the November 3 local elections.

"We will not take part in the November elections, we have our legally chosen representatives," Stevanovic said.

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Kosovo declared independence in 2008, nearly a decade after NATO's bombing campaign forced Serbia to relinquish control over the area.

Russia has consistently backed Serb resistance to Kosovar sovereignty, while the United States and most of Europe have embraced the former UN-administered republic as an independent state.

Based on reporting by AFP and dpa