Friday, March 10, 2006

Agim Ceku voted new Kosovo PM

Kosovo's parliament has elected former rebel leader Agim Ceku as the province's new prime minister.

His controversial nomination followed the resignation of Bajram Kosumi amid wide criticism of his administration.

It could further strain ties with Serbia, which says the move might endanger talks over Kosovo's future.

Mr Ceku, 45, an ethnic Albanian, was a commander of the Kosovo Liberation Army which fought against Serbian forces for independence in the late 1990s.

Serbia has issued an arrest warrant for him, accusing him of crimes against Serbians in both Kosovo and Croatia.


The 120-seat parliament backed Mr Ceku's nomination by 65 votes to 33 on Friday.

His appointment comes at a sensitive time for the province as the UN is sponsoring talks on the future of Kosovo.

On Friday, Serbian Foreign Minister Vuk Draskovic said his country could never accept a fully independent Kosovo. He told the BBC that the result would be a humiliation for Serbia, dangerous for the region and the whole of Europe.

The province is still legally part of Serbia and Montenegro - but it has been under UN protection since 1999.

Mr Ceku is currently the head of the Kosovo Protection Corps, a civil emergency force.

He is said to be very popular among Kosovo Albanians and has been seen as a dynamic leader.

Kosovo Albanians, who make up the majority, want independence for the province. But Serbia is concerned about the rights of the Serb minority.

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