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Moutier deadlock Swiss town appeals rejection of separatist vote

Protesters with tape over their mouths.

Some people in Moutier believe that their voices are not being heard by the authorities.

(© KEYSTONE / JEAN-CHRISTOPHE BOTT)

The Swiss town of Moutier has confirmed that it will appeal a decision to annul the result of a vote on which canton it should belong to.

The town council on Wednesday said it would take the case to the cantonal administrative court and possibly also the Swiss Supreme court at a later stage.

It's expected to take about two years before the cantonal judges announce their verdict - putting on hold the fate of Moutier. 

Last year, citizens voted to switch allegiance from mainly German-speaking canton Bern to French-speaking Jura. The vote saw an unusually high turnout of 88% that resulted in a decision to come under the umbrella of Jura.

However, the authorities were called in to investigate allegations of electoral tourism – claims that some people had registered themselves as eligible voters in Moutier without actually residing there.

A top district official last week ruled that six out of seven legal complaints over misleading propaganda and organisational flaws were justified. This decision was condemned by Jura separatists as being “politically motivated” and prompted a candlelit street protest in Moutier, which sits close to the two cantons.

The controversy is the latest twist in a long-running territorial dispute in Switzerland. French-speaking Jura became the 26th Swiss canton in 1979 when a separatist movement won a vote to secede from German-speaking canton Bern. Since then, the question has been raised in some towns and villages along the border about which canton they would like to be part of. 

swissinfo.ch with Keystone-SDA/mga,urs

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