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Thousands March in Kosovo, Fearing Country's Division


Thousands of Kosovo Albanians protested in Pristina against a United Nations plan, which, they say, would split the country along ethnic lines.

Protesters Wednesday took to the streets of the Kosovo capital, backing the country's leadership in opposing the plan, which sets out conditions for the deployment of a new European Union peacekeeping force in Kosovo.

The plan, backed by Belgrade and the United Nations, would create separate chains of command for Serbian and Albanian police forces operating in Kosovo. Police forces in ethnic Albanian areas would report to the new EU mission, while police in Serb-majority areas would report to U.N. officials.

Ethnic Albanians say the plan amounts to creating two, parallel chains of administration within Kosovo. They also worry it would give Serbia too much influence over Kosovo's internal affairs.

But Serbs say they will not accept the new EU force unless the six-point plan goes through.

Last week, EU officials agreed to Serbian demands that the mission remain neutral regarding Kosovo's status and have its personnel endorsed by the United Nations Security Council.

The mission is to replace U.N. security forces that have administered the former Serbian province since 1999.

Kosovo's leaders are on their way to London, where they will meet Britain's foreign secretary, David Miliband.

Kosovo's ethnic Albanian majority declared independence from Serbia in February. Serbia, its ally Russia, and ethnic Serb leaders in Kosovo reject Kosovo's unilateral declaration of independence as a violation of Serbian territorial integrity.

More than 50 countries, including the United States and many EU states, have recognized Kosovo's independence.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.

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