AIM: start

WED, 19 DEC 2001 01:44:42 GMT

Possible Obstruction!?

AIM Pristina, December 12, 2001

After a few-hours' delay because Head of OUN Mission in Kosovo, Hans Hakkaerup, was late, with sharp debates, the first constitutive session of Kosovo parliament was held as the result of November 17 elections organized by OSCE under international monitoring.

Like on all first nights, it seems that this one was also well prepared. Early in the morning, when accredited journalists were supposed to appear in the parliament building, the officials of UNMIK press service distributed "copies of the scenarios" to the frostbitten journalists by mistake. What they received was the speech of the civil administrator, but it included also instructions like for a real performance in which it was written in brackets and in bold: "In case a representative of the Democratic Party of Kosovo (PDK) begins to question the procedure, the microphone should be turned off". UNMIK officials managed to collect some of the papers they had distributed by mistake, but there were journalists who hung on to theirs claiming that it was "an argument for denying the regularity of the parliamentary session". The mentioned political party used the same explanation later on.

Chroniclers of Kosovar circumstances noted: The first session of the parliament of Kosovo after 12 years began without a national anthem, without a national flag and without the pledge of allegiance of the deputies. In his speech, Hans Hakkaerup, the cool Dane (as known to the Kosovo Albanian public) among other declared to the deputies that the parliament was inaugurated and estimated that this was a significant step towards implementation of OUN Security Council Resolution 1244. Then he called the President of Democratic League of Kosovo (LDK) to nominate two members of his party for the presidency of the assembly of Kosovo one of whom would be the chairman of the Assembly according to the established mechanism.

Connoisseurs of the local political scene were not surprised when the Democratic Party of Kosovo headed by Hashim Thaci (former political leader of Kosovo Liberation Army) failed to nominate its representatives stating that they had not been elected yet. This is what Fatmir Limaj, an influential member of this party said among other from the parliament platform: "We asked Hakkaerup that a representative of the Jashari family be invited"... At this point Hakkaerup turned off the microphone explaining that Mr.Limaj did not stick to the agenda. "Mister Limaj, I am forced to call your attention that you must stick to the determined item on the agenda", said Hakkaerup, ruling the representative of Democratic Party of Kosovo out of order.

The microphone was also turned off to the head of the group of deputies of Return coalition Rada Trajkovic for the same reason, but she had managed to express regret because representatives of Return coalition had had difficulties to arrive to the session and because Yugoslav officials were not present at the constitutive session. After the warning, she nominated two members of the presidency of the assembly, Gojko Savic and Oliver Ivanovic. The Ashkalis, Romanies and Egyptians nominated a representative of their own, and informed that next year, instead of theirs, a representative of Bosniacs would be in the presidency of the parliament, and the year after that a representative of the Turkish community. In the meantime, because their representatives were prevented from speaking, deputies of PDK left the session, but returned after completion of the vote. With 78 votes in favour, three against and two abstainers, five-member presidency of the parliament was elected, and Nexhat Daci, a member of the Academy of Sciences and member of LDK, was elected to chair the parliament. During the vote 27 deputies of PDK were absent as well as eight deputies of the Alliance for the future of Kosovo (AAK) of Ramush Haradinaj.

After a short break, when Nexhat Daci had already taken over the post of the chairman of the parliament and declared that after consultations during the break with members of the presidency he agreed that the session continue in three days, president of PDK Hashim Thaci took the floor and demanded a competent explanation why the session was postponed using the opportunity to oppose the way the first session was conducted declaring that the deputies’ immunity of the members of his party was violated. “Since today is December 10, the Day of Human Rights, I can tell the citizens and the officials of the international community present in this hall that Mr. Hakkaerup has committed the most serious violation of human rights in the world”. After that, the microphone was turned off to Mr. Thaci and then Nexhat Daci said that the platform could not be used for criticizing the envoy of OUN Secretary General, closing the session one more time. That was the end of the constituting session of the assembly of Kosovo.

After the session, Ibrahim Rugova declared to journalists that the talks for government coalition were completed: “We haven’t reached an agreement, that is why the chairman of the parliament was elected today, then the president of Kosovo will be elected and DSK will form the government. We suggested that PDK and AAK have five ministries, two deputy prime ministers and deputy chairman of the parliament”, said Mr. Rugova who will be officially nominated for the president of Kosovo by his party at the next session.

>From the assembly hall tensions moved to the seats of political parties. PDK held a press conference and declared that the parliament session had been directed and manipulated criticizing Mr. Hakkaerup for having turned the microphone off to the representative of this party. This party sent a letter of protest to OUN Secretary General, Kofi Annan, in which they demanded “disciplinary measures” be taken against Mr. Hakkaerup. Representatives of the Alliance for the Future of Kosovo were also angry. “Dr. Rugova knows only too well that he had made up the posts because according to the Constitutional Framework there is no such thing as either deputy prime ministers or deputy chairmen of the assembly”, said Bujar Dugolli, representative of AAK. Leader of this party Haradinaj had invested great effort the previous days to establish a large coalition of Kosovo Albanians. “Rugova decided to form a coalition with the Serbs. Let him do it”, Mr. Dugolli commented. “I wish him good luck in the coalition with Return”, Driton Lajci of PDK also declared. On the other hand, president of the parliamentary group of PDK Jakup Krasniqi declared that he did not believe that a progress would be made until the continuation of the session of the assembly of Kosovo. “I don’t think that Mr. Rugova is ready to form a coalition with the Albanian parties”, Krasniqi declared.

The criticism of those who will definitely be the opposition in the parliament of Kosovo is generally aimed at defaming LDK and its moderate leader Ibrahim Rugova by accusing him that he has elected the chairman of the assembly and that he intends to be elected president of Kosovo with the votes he will get in the third round of voting from Serb Return coalition.

On the other hand, sources close to LDK claim that a day after the constituting session Rugova “checked internal opposition within his own party which believed that a coalition with the other two political parties was necessary in order to establish the institutions of Kosovo”. He allegedly said that he had no intention to depart from the previous offers “regardless of consequences”. In an interview for BBC, Rugova said that there had been opposition in his party because much was offered to rival parties.

And what do Kosovo analysts think? Majority of them believe that the ethnic Albanian political scene will completely disintegrate and that two powerful blocs will be created, one in power which will refer to legality operating within the institutions of Kosovo and the other bloc, the opposition, which will be against anything that the former undertakes, doing their best in the meantime to make Serb deputies the allies of Mr. Rugova.

According to them, 22 deputies of Return coalition will manage to become the main axis of developments in the parliament. “They will manage to stir up a series of attacks within the ethnic Albanian bloc, alternately taking sides with institutionalism represented by Rugova, and then with those who will be blocking the process – identifying with the faction that is opposing Rugova and who will vote against or abstain practically always”, Albanian analysts believe.

If that actually happens, it seems certain that in the next three years – for as long as the term of the institutions of power in Kosovo lasts, the deputies will forget the promises given to the voters - that they are ready to work for the benefit of Kosovo and that they would overcome party interests.