Acrimony ends planned Kosovo power-sharing launch

PRISTINA, Feb 2, 2000 -- (Reuters) A meeting intended to inaugurate Kosovo's new power-sharing administration broke up in acrimony on Tuesday, with local politicians arguing over whether all the territory's parallel institutions had been wound up.

Under a deal with the United Nations-led administration, local leaders agreed to disband all unofficial governing structures. In return, the U.N. would share management of its interim administration with local political parties and experts.

U.N. officials had hoped to get the first departments in the new structure up and running at Tuesday's meeting. But the failure of Kosovo's unofficial parliament to dissolve itself on Monday threw a spanner in the works.

"Yesterday's events were distinctly unhelpful and have disrupted the excellent progress of the IAC, the Interim Administrative Council," said Jock Covey, a senior U.N. official who chaired Tuesday's meeting of the council.

"I therefore adjourned today's meeting and I join with each of my fellow members of the IAC in demanding clear and credible respect for the agreement we have made together," he said.

The council would meet again later in the week in an attempt to resolve the problems, U.N. officials said.

Rugova accused of failing to respect deal

Kosovo's ethnic Albanian majority set up unofficial institutions - from local councils to government ministries - as part of a parallel state after Serbian authorities stripped the province of its autonomy in 1989.

These structures have continued to exist, even after NATO bombing drove out Serb forces last year and the territory was placed under international control. They were joined by yet more set up after the bombing.

The parallel parliament was set up by the Democratic League of Kosovo (LDK) party, led by Ibrahim Rugova, which pursued a course of passive resistance to Serb repression.

Hashim Thaci, Rugova's main political rival and a former leader of the Kosovo Liberation Army which waged a guerrilla campaign against Serb rule, accused the LDK leader of failing to respect the deal with the U.N.

"Today does not bring much good news for Kosovo and its citizens and the international organizations operating in Kosovo," Thaci told reporters after the council meeting.

Rugova insisted all parallel structures had ceased to exist. But the parliament agreed at its Monday session to meet again within 10 days and made no decision on its future.

Attempting to explain the contradiction, a senior LDK official said the assembly's decision should not be viewed as defiance of the U.N. The parliament was simply unable to take care of all necessary business before the deadline, he said.

"The parliament's goal is not to make any obstruction for the international community," Fatmir Sejdiu, an LDK vice-president who is also parliament's secretary, told Reuters.