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Serbia constitutional referendum has slow start

[JURIST] A two-day referendum on a proposed new Serbian constitution [DOC; text] which includes a controversial preamble asserting Serbia's ongoing claim to Kosovo got underway on Saturday, but only a small number of voters turned out in its early stages. The Serbian Election Commission [official website, in Serbian] announced [press release] Saturday evening that 17.81% of eligible voters had cast their ballots by 8 PM local time. The support of over 50% of Serbia's 6.63 million registered voters is required to make the draft law. Srdjan Djuric, Director of the Serbian government's Office of Media Relations, said in a statement [text]that "tomorrow we have to show that we love our country and to complete the job that has been started.... Serbia will not allow to be the only state without a constitution [sic]."

The draft constitution was approved by parliament earlier this month [JURIST report]. Serbian leaders have called it the "last line of defense of Kosovo," but EU and US diplomats have warned [JURIST report] that references to the province in the draft charter will not impact ongoing United Nations discussions over the region's future status.

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