Accra (AFP) - Ghana has revoked its "premature" recognition of Kosovo -- a move backed by Serbia, which opposes statehood for the former Yugoslav province.
"The government of Ghana has decided to withdraw Ghana’s recognition of Kosovo as an independent state," deputy foreign minister Charles Owiredu told AFP on Tuesday.
The reasons were communicated to Serbia in a letter, he said.
"The decision to recognise Kosovo turned out to be premature", the letter said of its recognition in 2012.
"Ghana has taken into account the ongoing dialogue between Serbia and Kosovo aimed at resolving the issue of the latter’s quest to be recognised as an independent and sovereign entity and supports the ongoing process to bring finality to the matter," it said.
The announcement could hinder the resumption of a long-running dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina, led by the European Union (EU), which has been frozen for more than a year.
Kosovo declared independence from Serbia in 2008 in the final chapter of Yugoslavia's long and bloody breakup.
The former province is recognised by most of the West but needs Serbia -- and Belgrade's allies Russia and China -- to accept its statehood to get a seat in the UN.
The ministerial statement said Kosovo's unilaterally-proclaimed independence was "in contravention of the UN Security Council resolution 1244", a reference to the 1999 resolution that placed the ex-province under international protection.
That resolution gave Kosovo "substantial autonomy" within Yugoslavia, which Serbia was a part of at the time, and does not mention full independence.
Serbia's foreign ministry in a statement hailed an "important decision" by Ghana and said it became the "16th country ... UN member, to have reversed its recognition of Kosovo".
Most of the nations which made the move are small and Serbia's Foreign Minister Ivica Dacic stressed that Ghana had the largest population among them.
"This is the result of the state policy we have been leading for the past several years," he said.
Ghana's decision will "certainly influence other countries .. to revoke their decision on recognition" of Kosovo, Dacic said.
Kosovo says it is recognised by 116 countries and the list published on its foreign ministry website remained unchanged at midday Tuesday.
"It is the continuation of a dirty campaign ... it is in vain to waste time on it," Jetlir Zyberaj, an advisor to Kosovo's foreign ministry, told reporters.
Serbia said it hopes to bring the tally to below half of the UN's 193 members.