22 January 2007

Kosovo: Serb minister resigns over misuse of funds


Pristina, 27 Nov. (AKI) - Slavisa Petkovic, the only Serb minister in the Kosovo government, resigned on Monday, government spokeswoman Ulpijana Lama said. Petkovic was the bminister for the return of refugees and minority rights and his resignation has been rumoured for some time. The minority Serbs have also reserved for themselves the ministry of agriculture, but their representatives refused to take the post, protesting ethnic Albanian domination.

According to Kosovo Albanian language media, Petkovic was under pressure to resign after international auditors discovered a misuse of funds in his ministry. "The problems have accumulated and made impossible further functioning of this ministry," Ceku said on Friday, after meeting with Petkovic.

"The ministry with Petkovic as its head simply cannot function, which is a sufficient reason for his dismissal,"Ceku said. It was not clear who might replace Petkovic from the Serb ranks, but another Kosovo Serb leader, Oliver Ivanovic, he would consider taking the post, if offered and if Belgrade approved it.

Ethnic Albanians, who outnumber Serbs in Kosovo by 17 to one, demand independence, which Belgrade opposes. The province has been under United Nations control since 1999 and the international community is expected to make the decision on its final status early next year.