Saturday, September 03, 2005

Kosovo president returns to province after undergoing medical tests

PRISTINA, Serbia-Montenegro (AP) - Kosovo's President Ibrahim Rugova returned to the province Saturday after undergoing tests and treatment for an unnamed ailment at a U.S. military hospital in Germany.

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

Earlier this week, he was reported in poor health by Western officials speaking on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the issue.

Reporters were not allowed to approach his official residence Saturday as a large motorcade arrived from the airport. There were no immediate statements following his return.

Rugova was flown last week on a U.S. plane to the American military's Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany after a sudden deterioration in his health. He was treated by doctors in Pristina and at the main U.S. military base in Kosovo, Camp Bondsteel, before being taken to Germany. He reduced his daily activities in Kosovo due to reported flu-like symptoms that also affected his lungs.

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 reached 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 his illness 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.

Rugova survived an apparent assassination attempt earlier this year when a bomb hidden in a trash can exploded as his convoy passed. He was not injured in the blast.


Anonymous said...

"...shrouded in secrecy..." sure, poisoning isn't something you advertise....he came home to die at the hands of his compatriots.

Anonymous said...

Why the secrecy? Kosovo wake the hell up! He is a public figure....elected to office in a fair and legal election......the people of Kosovo have the right to know what health issues there elected leaders have.