PRISTINA, Yugoslavia — U.N. officials Saturday set Oct. 28 as the date for Kosovo's first internationally supervised elections, an event promoted as a step toward a democratic society.
The announcement of the date by the top U.N. administrator for Kosovo, Bernard Kouchner, came more than a month after the deadline for registration. Voters will choose members for 30 municipal assemblies in Kosovo.
Serbs in the province, however, overwhelmingly refused to register, even though the United Nations had extended the deadline to encourage minorities to sign up. The U.N. wanted substantial participation from all ethnic groups to give legitimacy to the balloting.
More than 1 million people registered, but the province's main ethnic minorities--in particular, Serbs and Gypsies--were missing from the voter lists. Kosovo is a province of Serbia, the main Yugoslav republic.
Kouchner, speaking to reporters after meeting with residents of the town of Vucitrn, 18 miles north of Pristina, the provincial capital, described the Serbian decision not to participate as unfortunate.
"I am very sorry for them, and I think it was a mistake," he said.
A key Kosovo Serb leader, Oliver Ivanovic, expressed disinterest in the announcement.
"I don't care," Ivanovic said when asked about the election plans. "The Serbs won't vote. They won't participate. Let Kouchner have his elections if it makes him happy."
Meanwhile, the Tanjug news agency, a mouthpiece for Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic's government, criticized the decision.
"Rather than effort to create democratic institutions in Kosovo, Kouchner has hereby proven himself to be an accomplice of ethnic Albanian separatists and terrorists who have ethnically cleansed the province of Serbs since his arrival there," the report said.