Central Europe Review Balkan Information Exchange
Vol 2, No 34
9 October 2000
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News from Kosovo
All the important news
since 30 September 2000

Llazar Semini

Violence dips ahead of election

Violence in Kosovo has recently declined substantially, before the municipal elections scheduled for 28 October, said chief UN administrator Bernard Kouchner.

"There have been no major incidents in the campaign."

The political parties are continuing their campaigns with higher intensity in rallies held in all the towns. Unfortunately, it is not uncommon for political leaders to accuse and criticize each other instead of dealing with their political programmes for the communes.

While news from Serbia has been the highlight of all print and electronic media, Kouchner warned that the world should not neglect Kosovo just because democracy may get a boost in Serbia.

As the Western allies, led by the United States, support the stirrings of democracy in Yugoslavia, ethnic Albanians here are worried that the West's enthusiastic embrace of any successor to Slobodan Milošević will kill their dream of an independent Kosovo.

Kouchner said his mission is to involve people in their own region in Kosovo, offering them real responsibilities.

"This is their Kosovo, not mine," he said.

OSCE chief Daan Everts made it known that 901,000 people will vote, of whom 863,000 are in Kosovo and 38,000 abroad.

Meanwhile, although election-related violence is down, the general crime rate has not fallen, and murders and other criminal acts have continued around the province.

In other news that has received little attention in local media, Kouchner appears poised to leave Kosovo after the election and is said to be under consideration to replace Japans' Sadako Ogata as the next UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).

 

Former prisoners end hunger strike

Former prisoners released from Serbian jails, who were protesting the continued imprisonment of their colleagues, ended their hunger strike following a visit on Wednesday by Dr Eric Chevallier, Special Adviser to UNMIK boss Dr Bernard Kouchner

Kouchner is to raise the issue of detainees in Serbia at both the UN Security Council and Kosovo's Interim Administrative Council next week.

An office for the Albanian prisoners and disappeared will start operating in Priština as of 12 October to deal with the lingering problem institutionally.

 

Kosovar Serb officers attacked

Some 40 to 50 people attacked a UN bus carrying 22 Serb police officers and translators in the Serb enclave of the divided northern city of Mitrovica.

The crowd threw stones at the bus, breaking windows and slightly injuring three of the 12 officers, all members of the newly formed Kosovo Police Service (KPS).

Although Serbs were initially reluctant to work with the UN police and join the force, the KPS now includes both ethnic Albanians and Serbs, neither of whom are allowed to work in the other's community.

 

Operation Trojan II to be launched

KFOR Multinational Brigade (MNB) Centre is starting phase two of Operation Trojan to increase security and services provided to Kosovar Serb communities.

Under the Operation Trojan flag, a number of essential servicesincluding the provision of secure transport, passenger trains, housing repairs and medical facilitieswill be improved.

 

Factory on fire, firefighters harassed

A fire occurred last weekend near a transformer inside the Zvecan factory, north of Priština, in an area populated by the Serb minority in Mitrovica commune.

UNMIK requested KFOR assistance in fighting the blaze, and the NATO-led force sent firefighting units to assist. Efforts to extinguish the blaze were successful, and KFOR troops departed the scene.

It was reported that while KFOR troops were at the fire, they were verbally harassed by an estimated 50 to 100 Kosovar Serbs along a fence west of the Zvecan factory. Rocks were thrown at the firefighting troops, and an unoccupied UNMIK vehicle was set ablaze. No injuries were reported in connection with either of these incidents.

Another fire was reported in Mitrovica's battery factory, which burned itself out shortly after starting.

The blaze knocked out power to Zvecan and several surrounding villages, said local Serb leader Oliver Ivanović.

Bystanders said one man was arrested in connection with the fire.

 

Koštunica claims vote fraud in Kosovo

Yugoslav President-elect Vojislav Koštunica has filed a formal complaint accusing Slobodan Milošević of stealing 140,000 votes in Kosovo.

UNMIK head Bernard Kouchner reiterated that less than 45,000 Serbs in Kosovo voted in the Yugoslav elections.

There has been no report of a single Albanian voting in the Yugoslav elections.

 

KPS training intensifies

The training of the Kosovo Protection Corps (TMK) has intensified with 200 members participating in a three-week introductory course that began on 2 October, as the first phase of the establishment of the School of Civil Protection in Kosovo.

The course focuses on emergency operations management and is led by European experts.

 

Winter preparations under way

UNHCR officers, together with the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, other UN agencies, KFOR and non-governmental organizations and donors recently struck a bi-weekly winter preparedness working group.

"We are not expecting the kind of problems that we faced last winter in terms of emergency humanitarian assistance," UNHCR spokesperson Paula Ghedini said.

"However, we are aware that there are very many areas throughout Kosovo that will need special assistance."

 

Polling station rules approved

For efficiency and ease in voting, each polling station for the upcoming municipal elections will have a maximum of 700 voters. In most cases, voters will exercise their franchise at the same location at which they registered to vote.

Polling stations will be located in accessible places with sufficient space to process voters and accommodate the Polling Station Committee and accredited observers.

To ensure the security and integrity of polling stations, no weapons will be allowed in unless the Chairperson or International Supervisor asks for assistance from the police.

Llazar Semini, 6 October 2000

Based in Priština, Llazar Semini is Kosova Project Manager for the Institute for War and Peace Reporting. Jailed IWPR correspondent Miroslav Filipovic was named European Internet Journalist of the Year.

Moving on:

 

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Resurrecting 1989

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