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KLA Leads New Kosovar 'Government'

KLA leader Hashim Thaci heads a new Kosovo Albanian administration dominated by the guerrillas and other opposition to long-time Kosovar leader Ibrahim Rugova.
By Fron Nazi

Kosovo Albanians have formed a new government, dominated by the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA).

The new administration, which was announced by Kosovo's 29-year-old prime minister, Hashim Thaci, formally ends the decade-long rule of Ibrahim Rugova's Democratic League of Kosovo (LDK).

The government is overwhelmingly made up of the KLA and Democratic Union Movement (LBD), a coalition of five opposition parties to the LDK led by Rexhep Qosaj, a long-time critic of Rugova. One post, that of deputy prime minister, was left open for the LDK.

According to Jakup Krasniqi, the government spokesman: "The formation of the government is of urgent necessity at a time when all political and governing structures have collapsed."

The formation of a new government was envisaged in the ill-fated 23 February Rambouillet agreement. The new government was scheduled to rule over Kosovo affairs until elections could be held.

The new government contains six representatives from the KLA. In addition to the position of prime minister, the KLA controls the key ministries of finance, public order and defence. Five ministers come from the LBD.

Concerning the vacant LDK slot, Krasinqi said: "The LDK is currently inactive. Most of their leaders have left Kosovo or as in Rugova's case have been captured by the Serb forces. LDK is not capable of defending Kosovo and thus is no longer a player."

According to the KLA, the government was formed inside of Kosovo and all of its members, including Thaci, are currently there. However, LDK supporters in Tirana say that the government was formed in Tirana and that the KLA leaders are there in hiding.

The conflict between the LDK and the coalition of the KLA and LBD came to a head in March 1998. While violence erupted in the province, the LDK organised parliamentary elections. Opposition parties and the KLA considered the poll inappropriate, given what was taking place.

The new government expects former Prime Minister-in-exile Bujar Bukoshi to turn over the funds collected from the diaspora over the past ten years. Since 1991 when the LDK formed its parallel government for Kosovo, it financed itself via a levy on Kosovo Albanians abroad. Every Kosovo Albanian was expected to donate 3 per cent of their income to finance the parallel government.

According to some estimates, more than $300 million was raised, much of which remains under Bukoshi's control. Following the outbreak of large-scale fighting, the KLA set up its own fund, The Homeland Calls. Since then, the money from the diaspora has been re-routed from the LDK to the KLA.

The KLA feels that Bukoshi is spending the money to undermine their campaign by trying to form an alternative army and by waging an anti-KLA campaign among the Albanians and in Western capitals and media. Bukoshi has claimed that the KLA is led by Marxists under the direct control of Albania's former Socialist Prime Minister Fatos Nano.

"The government will work towards bringing freedom and democracy to Kosova and will do so by working from within Kosova," said Krasniqi.

The new government: Prime Minister, Hashim Thaci, KLA Deputy Prime Minister, Mehmet Hajrizi, LBD Deputy Prime Minister, (vacant), LDK Minister of Information, Bajram Kosumi, LBD Minister of Finance, Adem Grabofci, KLA Minister of Immigration, Rifat Blakaj, LBD Minister of Public Order, Rexhep Selime, KLA Minister of Law, Hydajet Hyseni, LBD Minister of Information for Kosova, Kadri Veseli, KLA Minister of Development, (vacant), LBD Minister of Defence, Azem Syla, KLA Minister of Local Governance, Rame Buja, KLA

Fron Nazi is a correspondent for the Institute for War & Peace Reporting.

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