Prime Minister Bajram Kosumi of Kosovo resigned and was succeeded by former Kosovo Liberation Army Lt. General Agim Ceku. Kosumi reportedly resigned because of criticism that he was not living up to standards set by his predecessor, Ramush Haradinaj, who resigned after being charged with war crimes for his role in the 1998-99 war between Kosovo and Serbia. He was fearful that remaining in office could potentially split his party and the current governing coalition.
His resignation led the Democratic League of Kosovo to remove Nexhat Daci from the speaker position in Kosovo’s parliament and the nomination of Ceku to succeed Kosumi. Various Serb interests protested at Ceku’s nomination, given the belief he may have committed war crimes.
The Serbian government in Belgrade suggested to UN administrator Soren Jessen-Petersen that he use his authority to prevent Ceku from taking office. A spokesperson for Jessen-Petersen, however, stated that he was unwilling to interfere in the democratic process in Kosovo and stop Ceku’s election by the parliament. Ceku was elected by a vote of 65 to 33 in the 120 member Kosovo parliament.
In a public speech after his election, Ceku addressed Kosovo Albanians and Serbs. He told Serbs, speaking in Serbian, that there was a place for them in a democratic and multi-ethnic Kosovo. He urged Kosovo Serbs to participate in political life in the disputed province.
Ceku, however, insisted that Kosovo would become independent of Serbia during ongoing final status talks. His role in the talks, set to resume on March 17 in Vienna, has yet to be determined.
Serbian President Boris Tadic urged Serbs to be cautious after his election, noting that he could not change the past but that he would insist that Ceku treat Serbs appropriately going into the future.