IHT - Kosovo's UN chief widens rule to bring in ethnic Albanians

Paris, Thursday, December 16, 1999

The Associated Press

PRISTINA - The chief United Nations administrator in Kosovo signed a power-sharing agreement Wednesday with Kosovo's ethnic Albanian leaders, creating a governing body aimed at bolstering political stability in the province.

Bernard Kouchner, along with three Kosovar Albanian leaders representing local political parties, met at the UN headquarters in Pristina to sign the agreement, which envisages the formation of an interim administration.

No representatives of the dwindling Serbian community were present at the signing.

The new body, in which the UN administrator will act as governor, is to be established immediately. It is expected to absorb all existing administrative structures and be in operation by Jan. 31.

''It's an important moment which will be history,'' Mr. Kouchner said after the signing ceremony.

Under the agreement, officials said, the three ethnic Albanian leaders - Ibrahim Rugova, Hashim Thaci and Rexhep Qosja - are to work with the United Nations, the European Union, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe and the UN High Commissioner for Refugees.

The addition of the Kosovo leaders to the decision-making administration indicated a tacit recognition by the United Nations that, after six months, it could not administer the province effectively without their participation.

Speaking in New York, a UN spokesman, Fred Eckhard, disputed suggestions that the United Nations was admitting it could not run the province without a power-sharing agreement. He said the organization never intended to impose a dictatorship in the province.

In its resolution June 10 that ended the warfare with Serbia, the UN Security Council created an international military force to oversee security and a UN civilian administration to administer the province and create a government and economy.

The United Nations put the European Union in charge of reconstruction, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in charge of developing democratic institutions and holding elections and the UN refugees agency in charge of returning and resettling displaced Kosovars.

The new body will comprise 14 departments intended to function like government ministries. The departments will be devoted to rebuilding the war-shattered province. Some will deal with trade, finance and the economy.

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