27 March 2007

Former parliament speaker splits from Kosovo's main political party, creates his own

Associated Press, Friday, January 12, 2007 9:23 AM


PRISTINA, Serbia-The former Kosovo parliament speaker broke ranks with the province's main political party Friday, opting to create his own party in a political shake-up that could threaten the governing coalition's majority.


Nexhat Daci, a senior member of the Democratic League of Kosovo, or LDK, and a lawmaker, announced the creation of a party, to be called the Democratic League, which he said will build on the legacy of former President Ibrahim Rugova, who died a year ago of lung cancer, leaving behind a party deeply fragmented.


The move followed a party congress last year in which Daci and his allies lost the leadership of the party to Kosovo's President Fatmir Sejdiu.


Kosovo is governed by a coalition between the LDK and the much smaller Alliance for the Future of Kosovo, which jointly hold a slim majority in the 120-seat parliament. Daci's camp said they have the backing of at least six deputies.


He said on Friday, however, that he did not plan to destabilize the coalition during the period of its mandate.


Daci served as the speaker of the Kosovo parliament for four years but was dismissed in early 2006 as part of a broader reshuffle within the governing coalition.


He accused U.S. diplomats of pushing him out, a highly unusual claim for an ethnic Albanian politician in Kosovo, where 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.


Kosovo, legally part of Serbia, has been under U.N. rule since mid-1999.


The Albanian majority, about 90 percent of Kosovo's 2 million population, wants to establish an independent state, while Serbia has insisted it remain part of its territory.


A U.N. envoy tasked with drafting a resolution for Kosovo's future status is to present his plan in a few weeks.