Pristina (AFP) - An ethnic Serb Kosovo minister was sacked on Tuesday, the day before another protest over a statement that insulted the ethnic Albanian majority and sparked a wave of protests.
"From today on minister (Aleksandar) Jablanovic is not a part of the Kosovo government," Prime Minister Isa Mustafa told reporters, without taking questions or saying whether the Serb minister had quit or was dismissed.
Jablanovic told a local TV channel in Pristina: "I do not agree with the decision of the Prime Minister Isa Mustafa. I did not want to resign."
In Belgrade, a top Serbian government official in charge with Kosovo, Marko Djuric, said "Mustafa's unilateral decision to sack Jablanovic... was deeply wrong."
His departure is aimed at defusing the outrage sparked a month ago when Jablanovic called a group of ethnic Albanians "savages" for trying to prevent Serb pilgrims from visiting a monastery in western Kosovo at the Orthodox Christmas.
The ethnic Albanians had claimed the pilgrim group included "war criminals".
Jablanovic later publicly apologised for his comments but continued to be the target of protests across the breakaway Serbian territory.
Thousands of protesters demanding his dismissal have taken to the capital's streets on two occasions.
The nationalist opposition Self-Determination movement has called another "mass protest," for Wednesday.
Last week's demonstration turned violent. Police used tear gas and water cannon to disperse stone-throwing protesters who attempted to penetrate government buildings.
At least 80 people were injured, including 56 police officers, while over a hundred protesters were arrested.
Some 120,000 ethnic Serbs live in Kosovo, 90 percent of whose 1.8 million people are ethnic Albanians.
Mustafa included three Serb ministers in his 21-member cabinet in a bid to improve relations with Kosovo's largest minority group, as well as with Serbia, which does not recognise the territory's independence declared unilaterally in 2008.