Kosovo Mourns Rugova, Seeks Successor

Kosovans began on Sunday, January 22, five days of national mourning over the death of their embolic leader Ibrahim Rugova, as the UN-administered region began the difficult task of finding a successor to the Gandhi of the Balkans.

Kosovo Mourns Rugova, Seeks Successor

President Rugova, who passed away on Saturday, January 21, from lung cancer, will be buried in Pristina on Thursday, January 26, reported Agence France Presse (AFP).

Fatmir Sejdij, the Secretary General of Rugova's Democratic League of Kosovo (LKD), said the body of the deceased president would be moved from his residence to the hall of Kosovo's parliament building where it would lie for citizens to be able to pay their respects for three days starting on Monday, January 23. Rugova was to have led Kosovo's delegation to UN-sponsored talks with Belgrade next week on the province's future status.

Legally part of Serbia, Kosovo has been run by the UN since 1999, when NATO bombing drove out forces of former Serbian leader Slobodan Milosevic accused of atrocities against Albanian civilians in a two-year independence war. While the Albanians, representing 90 percent of population, are demanding independence, Belgrade is only offering broad autonomy for Kosovo.

Successor

A charismatic and powerful figurehead, Rugova has no obvious successor as president or at the helm of the Kosovo negotiating team with Belgrade. Under the province's constitution, Parliament Speaker Nexhat Daci temporarily takes over the role of president. He is also expected to take the helm of the LDK.

Parliament has three months to vote in a new president, but Kosovo's Western backers want Rugova's party to overcome bitter factionalism and nominate a successor sooner. "Rugova was the key to unity within the Albanian government. His death could destroy the fragile balance within the coalition," Dukagjin Gorani, an analyst from the University of Pristina, told AFP.

Analysts in Kosovo argue that finding someone to lead the negotiations with Belgrade is more important at this crucial stage of the UN-backed status talks, which began tentatively in November.

Many believe none of Rugova's likely successors has enough of the diplomatic acumen that he had on the world stage. A major part of the problem is that Rugova declined to groom anyone within his party to take over from him. The main possible successors are former Albanian resistance leader Hashim Thaci, wealthy businessman and former journalist Veton Surroi, and incumbent Premier Bajram Kosumi.

Thaci, 36, first came into the spotlight as one of the leaders of the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA), which fought for independence during the 1998-1999 Kosovo war. He was a student activist during the years of passive resistance to Belgrade's rule in the 1990s. But later, he walked away from Rugova's pacifist approach and joined the KLA.

Thaci helped to establish the Democratic Party of Kosovo and is now the main opposition leader. Seen as a the main newcomer on the Kosovo political scene, Surroi has been a key player in developing the province's media.

He founded the popular daily Koha Ditore and owns KTV television. Surroi, 43, has been for years a fierce critic of repression from Belgrade and also of his fellow ethnic Albanian politicians. The son of a former Yugoslav diplomat hopes to shift the focus of politics in Kosovo away from independence towards practical issues such as the moribund economy.

Kosumi took over as prime minister after his predecessor, Ramush Haradinaj, was indicted by the UN war crimes tribunal in March last year. A top official of Haradinaj's Alliance for the Future of Kosovo (AAK), he had been serving as the environment minister in his government.

Kosumi, 45, is a former Albanian language professor and journalist. He was one of the organizers of the first Albanian students' protests in Kosovo in 1981 and was later arrested by the then communist regime and sent to prison for 10 years.

Daci, a 61-year-old chemist, is also seen by some analysts to be among the candidates to succeed the emblematic Rugova as president. Despite his limited political experience, he has proved in parliament that he is not swayed by the differing opinions and not tolerable of authoritative behavior towards the opposition.

 

Source: Islamonline.net

Last Mod: 20 Eylül 2018, 18:16
Add Comment