Daily Telegraph
Kosovo moves towards new government

By Christopher Lockwood

Thursday 3 February 2000

In an encouraging sign that the building of Kosovo as an autonomous state is taking shape, Ibrahim Rugova, the province's moderate leader, said yesterday that he had dissolved the "Republic of Kosovo" and its government, which he headed.

By abolishing one of two competing self-declared Kosovar governments, the move allows for the creation of a new administration that will include Mr Rugova's supporters and representatives of the former ethnic Albanian militia, the Kosovo Liberation Army. It will gradually take over the functions currently exercised by the interim United Nations administration in Kosovo.

The rival government to Mr Rugova's, headed by Hashim Thaci, commander of the KLA, had already been dissolved in keeping with a UN requirement that all parallel governments must be dissolved by the end of January. The plan is for a unified government to be elected, probably in the autumn.

Mr Rugova originally proclaimed his Kosovo republic in 1990, after Serbia revoked the autonomous status of its southern province. The scrapping of the "republic" as part of plans for a new administration involving former guerrillas and opposition leaders, has formed a key part of the West's peacekeeping strategy for the province.

Mr Rugova also declared himself ready to discuss the handover of his administration's funds to UN peacekeepers. These are believed to amount to about £80 million. But it was reported that Kosovo's Serbs are refusing to join the new joint administration.