30 March 2006

Kosovo assembly president accuses US diplomats of orchestrating his sacking

AP, Mar 02, 2006 2:03 PM


PRISTINA, Serbia-Montenegro-The president of Kosovo's assembly accused U.S. diplomats on Thursday of orchestrating a political reshuffle in the province which led to his dismissal.


Nexhat Daci, who was also part of the team negotiating Kosovo's final status with Serbia, was replaced by his party, the governing Democratic League of Kosovo, on Wednesday. Parliament will have to choose a new leader for his dismissal to take effect.


Daci was dismissed as part of a broader reshuffle within the governing coalition, which also included the resignation of Kosovo's Prime Minister Bajram Kosumi. But the parliament president refused to step down voluntarily, and accused U.S. diplomats, whom he did not name, of pushing him out.


"I have become an obstacle to the personal interests of some American citizen," Daci said in an interview to be broadcast in Kosovo's public television, RTK, later Thursday. "The relations have been strained for private reasons," he said without elaborating.


Daci's attack is highly unusual for an ethnic Albanian politician. The United States is considered a savior by Kosovo's ethnic Albanians for its role in leading NATO's air war that pushed Serb forces out of the province in 1999.


Philip Goldberg, the top U.S. diplomat in Kosovo, denied interference.


The party's decision to replace Daci was "taken on the basis of democratic procedures and not on a basis of any outside interference," Goldberg said in a statement.


The changes come at a sensitive time for the province, with ethnic Albanians and Serbs conducting crucial U.N.-mediated talks on whether Kosovo will become independent, as its ethnic Albanian majority insists it must, or remain part of Serbia.


Kosovo has been administered by the United Nations since 1999, and talks aim to resolve its status by the end of the 2006.