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Vol 2, No 39
13 November 2000
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Kosovo NewsNews from Kosovo
All the important news
since 4 November 2000

Llazar Semini


Rugova's LDK wins, violence and Serb anger start after Kosovo poll

Kosovo's first post war election results were announced on Monday 6 November, with signs of violence and political wrangling trying to mar the launch of democratic local government.

The Democratic League of Kosovo (LDK) took control of 21 of Kosovo's 30 municipalities, including all its major towns, according to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, which organized the poll for the Yugoslav province's UN administration.

Rugova's party won 398,872 votes, representing 58 percent of the ballots cast and giving it 504 council seats. In second place came Hashim Thaçi's Democratic Party of Kosovo (PDK), with 187,821 votes, 27.3 percent and 267 seats. The PDK will be the largest party in six councils.

Ramush Haradinaj's Alliance for the Future of Kosovo came in third, with 7.7 percent and 71 seats. A string of smaller parties won a handful of seats each. More than 79 percent of those registered to vote did so.

Now Bernard Kouchner's UN administration will have to install the elected councils in Kosovo's town halls, which, since the end of the Kosovo war, have been controlled by appointed officials.

Kosovo's Serb minority boycotted voter registration, rendering the results irrelevant in three Serb-dominated northern municipalities. Kouchner has said that he will name Serb representatives to councils where they form a significant part of the population.

A disturbing sign following the poll was the shooting incidents and bombing of a local LDK office. "We are not yet able to confirm this as a politically motivated attack, but we are seriously concerned," UN spokeswoman Susan Manuel told reporters.


Elections covered generally well by media

Temporary Media Commissioner Simon Haselock said that both print and broadcast media generally complied very well indeed with the rules set by the Central Election Commission.

However, there have been a couple of exceptions in the print media sector. One newspaper was heavily biased against the PDK and two others campaigned against the LDK, thereby violating fundamental rules of journalistic professionalism.


Weapons cache discovered

KFOR (NATO's Kosovo Force) and UNMIK (United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo) police have intensified their work in discovering illegal weaponry possession by the population in Kosovo.

KFOR has an ongoing campaign to seek out arms caches belonging to ethnic Albanian separatist guerrillas, pro-Yugoslav Serb extremists and crime gangs, commander Lieutenant General Carlo Cabogiosu told reporters.

KFOR Polish-Ukrainian Battalion soldiers found earlier this week a weapons cache in a cave north of Dac Mala near the province's border with Macedonia. The soldiers found 43 82-mm mortar rounds, 38 D40 rockets, 38 RPG-2 grenades, two RPG launchers, 25 mines, nine boxes of 12.7-mm machine gun ammunition, a heavy machine gun, a grenade launcher, a SGMT rifle, five RPG-7s and 170 blocks of dynamite.

KFOR had yet to investigate and could not say to whom the weapons belonged. Guns, ammunition, explosives and Yugoslav army and police uniforms were also found in a search of two Serb villages in Kosovo. The British commander of Kosovo's central military sector, Brigadier Robert Fry, said he believed part of the haul was linked to a group uncovered by British and Swedish troops in the Kosovo town of Gracanica before Yugoslav polls in September.

Western officials said that group seemed to be planning to destabilize Kosovo before the September 24 elections and Fry was quoted at the time as saying it appeared to be linked to then Yugoslav President Slobodan Milošević's elite army troops. Two people were handed over to the United Nations police in Kosovo during the search.


Ethnic Albanian leader rejects talks with Belgrade

DLK leader Ibrahim Rugova, who achieved a landslide victory in the 28 October local elections and who is now to run local authorities around the province, has said that Belgrade should not have any say in the future of Kosovo following the "terrible war" there. Rugova called upon Western countries to recognize the province's independence.

Rugova said he could not trust Belgrade, as "the government can change there anytime." He added that KFOR will "always" be in Kosovo "because we will become part of NATO one day."

According to Rugova, integration between Albanian and Serb populations in the province would take time, but reiterated his commitment to cooperation with Kosovo Serbs. However, he said elections for the Serbian parliament due on 23 December could not be held in the province. UN administrator Bernard Kouchner has not yet decided whether the elections can be extended to Kosovo.


Freed Kosovo activist appeals for tolerance

Flora Brovina, a doctor, human rights activist and poet, released on the orders of new Yugoslav President Vojislav Koštunica, appealed to the people of the province to show tolerance towards all ethnic groups.

"This does not mean that I have forgotten and that one should forget, but we should learn from the past never to let it repeat itself," she told a news conference in the Kosovo capital Priština in her first extensive comments since her release. Brovina also made clear she shared the view of the vast majority of Kosovo Albanians that the province should be independent.

Brovina was among thousands of ethnic Albanians detained by Serb forces in Kosovo during the NATO bombing campaign. They were taken to Serbia proper before NATO-led peacekeepers moved into the province. More than 800 of them still remain there, urging Kosovo Albanian to resume an intensive string of protests in Priština and Djakova, two towns with many prisoners.


Kosovo politicians angry at Yugoslavia's UN entry

Albanian politicians in Kosovo criticized Yugoslavia's entry into the United Nations, in contrast to warm words of welcome from elsewhere in the world.

Kosovo, an international protectorate after last year's NATO bombing campaign to halt Belgrade's repression of its ethnic Albanian majority, remains legally part of Yugoslavia. But almost all Kosovo Albanians and their political parties advocate independence from Serb-dominated Yugoslavia.

The Democratic Party of Kosovo (PDK), led by former guerrilla leader Hashim Thaçi of the Kosovo Liberation Army, blasted the move. Bardhyl Mahmuti, PDK spokesman for foreign affairs, said Yugoslavia's entry into the world body was unacceptable, as it had not met conditions laid down by UN resolution 1244 governing the international presence in Kosovo.

"Yugoslavia was admitted to the United Nations before these conditions were met...this is unacceptable to us," Mahmuti said.


UNMIK police commissions anti-prostitution unit

The UNMIK police in Kosovo has formed the unit of 22 officers who will specialize in combating prostitution and the trafficking of humans in Kosovo. The unit will start operation in the Priština region and will be working in all five regions by the end of November. It will attack prostitution-related crime throughout Kosovo in an organized and systematic manner.

All victims would be offered sanctuary, medical treatment and psychological counseling. Foreign victims will be offered repatriation assistance by the International Organization for Migration. Perpetrators of trafficking-related crimes will be arrested and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.


UN environment team to visit Kosovo sites hit by depleted uranium

A team of experts from the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) on a two-week Kosovo visit will study the impact of depleted uranium used during last year's conflict in the Balkans.

Experts will travel to six selected sites where depleted uranium was used in military ordnance and will measure radioactivity levels and take soil and water samples, which will be tested for the presence of heavy metals that result when depleted uranium breaks down.

The team is expected to publish a report on its findings in January.

Llazar Semini, 10 November 2000

Llazar Semini is the Kosova Project Manager for the Institute for War and Peace Reporting.

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