Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Salihaj, Tërmkolli say they won’t be removed from government

Zëri quotes senior Kosovo Government officials as saying they are not threatened with removal from the government as has been speculated in the media lately. Deputy Prime Minister Adem Salihaj said it was political speculation that he, Minister Tërmkolli and Minister Haraqiaj would soon be removed from the Government.

Asked to comment on the issue, Minister Tërmkolli was quoted as saying, ‘I will not resign… even if UNMIK calls for this, because there is no reason for me to do so.’

Express reports on the front page that UNMIK chief Søren Jessen-Petersen is ready to punish those responsible for perpetrating corrupt activities in the Kosovo Government. However, his partners from the Contact Group are trying to block any related action. Express says investigations on possible involvement of government officials in corruption and organised crime went smoothly, ‘but the break occurred when the decision for punishment had to be made’.

Unnamed sources told the paper that the UNMIK chief was ready to act according to the rule of law, but his partners from the Contact Group stopped him. ‘The English… they are obstructing the process,’ said the source.

According to the newspaper, international advisor to the Presidency and Government, Simon Haselock, is trying to prevent action. Haselock is reportedly lobbying Kosovo institutions and Contact Group members to postpone or block the investigation and punishment of senior government officials.

Express claims that the UNMIK chief promised some Kosovan political leaders a month ago that ‘it is a matter of days before someone from senior government structures to go home’.

UNMIK DPI Director Hua Jiang denies that SRSG Jessen-Petersen asked for the removal of the deputy Prime Minister and the two Ministers. She said allegations of corruption were currently being investigated and that was a police matter.

Commenting on the issue, PDK Secretary General Jakup Krasniqi said there would powerful reactions if the investigations were not completed, especially if the process suffered because of political intervention. ‘There are claims that the international administration wants to delay the investigations and punishment until autumn [when the ministries of justice and order are expected to be in place] so Kosovans could deal with the issue,’ the paper said. ‘The PDK would not accept this as it is UNMIK’s responsibility to finish the job.’

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