Monday, November 22, 2004

EU issues warning over man tipped to be Kosovo's new PM - AFP

EU foreign affairs chief Javier Solana said Monday that a former ethnic-Albanian rebel leader under investigation for war crimes might not be the "most appropriate" man to lead Kosovo.

The investigation by UN war crimes prosecutors at The Hague into Ramush Haradinaj is delaying the formation of a new government after an election in the internationally protected Serbian province last month.

"As far as we're concerned, our number one priority is to work on the standards issue," Solana told reporters in reference to efforts by the European Union to build up democracy and civil rights in Kosovo.

"Whoever the prime minister, he has to work on the standards issue," he said as EU foreign ministers met here.

"And if in the end the prime minister is somebody who has to go to The Hague, he may not be the most appropriate person to work towards those standards."

President Ibrahim Rugova's Democratic League of Kosovo, which won 47 seats in the 120-member assembly, announced last week that it had reached a coalition agreement with Haradinaj's Alliance for the Future of Kosovo.

Under the deal Rugova would stay on for another term as president and Haradinaj would take the post of prime minister in Kosovo, which has been under UN administration since the end of the 1998-1999 war.

But Haradinaj's past as one of the best-known ethnic-Albanian guerrilla commanders against Serbian forces has come back to haunt him after UN prosecutors called him in for questioning earlier this month.

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