Kosovo President Ibrahim Rugova
© AFP/File Nikola Besevic
PRISTINA, Serbia-Montenegro (AFP) - Kosovo President Ibrahim Rugova has said in a message to the nation that he was suffering from lung cancer, but that he intended to remain in office.
Kosovo President Ibrahim Rugova has said in a message to the nation that he was suffering from lung cancer, but that he intended to remain in office.
"On Saturday, I returned from Germany, where doctors have established that I have lung cancer," Rugova said on Monday in a message broadcast by three main Kosovo television stations.
"I will continue performing my presidential duties," he added.
Rugova said the cancer "is localized," with "doctors prescribing intensive therapy."
"The doctors also established that, for now, my health condition is improving and they are optimistic regarding my future treatment," he said.
The 61-year-old president returned home on Saturday after a week of medical tests at a US military hospital in Germany.
"I am convinced that, with God's help, I will overcome this battle and that we will continue working together, for even faster recognition of Kosovo independence by our American and European friends," Rugova said, adding that, "as always," he expected "support from the people of Kosovo."
After reports that Rugova was suffering from flu, he was flown urgently to Germany by a US military airplane for medical testing 10 days ago.
The lack of official statements and a media blackout over Rugova's health condition after he left for Germany had provoked widespread speculation and pessimistic scenarios about the state of his health, including suggestions he may have cancer.
A long-time advocate of Kosovo independence, Rugova was elected president for the second time last year after his Democratic League of Kosovo (LDK) party won elections in October 2004.
Kosovo has been administered by the United Nations since a NATO-led bombing campaign ousted Serbian troops in 1999 to end a Serbian crackdown on rebels.