Sunday, September 04, 2005

BREAKING NEWS: Kosovo's president, reportedly has cancer

PRISTINA, Serbia-Montenegro (AP) - Kosovo's president Ibrahim Rugova is expected to make a televised address to the province Monday, a day after a government official told The Associated Press that he has cancer.

It was not immediately clear what was Rugova's current condition, according to the official who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the issue. The official did not disclose any other details.

He returned home on Saturday after spending a week at the U.S. military's Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany after a sudden deterioration in his health.

His condition had remained shrouded in secrecy during that time, with his associates offering no details on his ailment for nearly 10 days. That fueled fears of a possible slowdown of the process leading to talks on the province's future, planned for later this year.

A statement issued by his office late Saturday said Rugova will take up his presidential duties again, but he will be under medical care in his residence in Pristina.

Initially, Rugova was treated by doctors in Pristina and at the main U.S. military base in Kosovo, Camp Bondsteel, before being taken to Germany.

In his last public appearance before flying to Germany, Rugova was visibly frail and spoke with a weak voice during a ceremony to lay the foundation stone of the first Catholic cathedral in Kosovo's capital.

The 61-year-old leader, who has cult status among some ethnic Albanians, has been at the forefront of their demand for independence from Serbia since the early 1990s, when he led a nonviolent movement against the policies of then-Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic.

Serbs want Kosovo to remain part of Serbia-Montenegro, a union that replaced Yugoslavia.

Rugova's possible departure from office due to ill health would leave Kosovo's political scene in disarray at the most sensitive time since the end of the war in 1999.

Talks to determine Kosovo's future are to take place later this year -- if the province reaches internationally set standards on human rights, rights of minorities and rule of law.

Until recently, Rugova led the Democratic League of Kosovo, the province's biggest political party, which has won two general elections since the U.N. began running the disputed province in 1999. The U.N. came in after a NATO air war aimed at stopping the crackdown by Serb forces on independence-seeking ethnic Albanians.


Anonymous said...

President Rugova has proven himself to be a survivor time and again. He will hang low for a while and ride this storm like he's done the previous ones.

Anonymous said...

All the best to the prez

Anonymous said...

sorry, he 's a dead man. you don't recover from lung cancer. they sent him home to die.

Anonymous said...

We wish him all the best. He is and will always be our hero.