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Friday, 28 December, 2001, 22:58 GMT
UN's Kosovo chief resigns
Hans Haekkerup
Haekkerup: a key player in preparing Kosovo elections
The chief United Nations administrator in Kosovo, Hans Haekkerup, has resigned.


After a very intensive year in Kosovo, I look forward to spending more time with my family before taking up new challenges

Hans Haekkerup
Mr Haekkerup, 56, said in a statement he was stepping down due to family reasons as his wife was expected to give birth in February.

"After a very intensive year in Kosovo, I look forward to spending more time with my family before taking up new challenges."

In praise of his own record, he said he had established substantial autonomy for Kosovo, initiated dialogue with Yugoslavia, strengthened law enforcement and revived the province's economy.

A UN statement said General Secretary Kofi Annan "greatly regretted Mr Haekkerup's departure, although he respected his decision".

Mr Annan added that the deputy UN representative in Kosovo, Charles Brayshaw, would be in charge of the mission until a successor was appointed.

Tributes

The United States said it regretted Mr Haekkerup's decision, noting his role in bringing peace and democracy to Kosovo.

Peacekeeping troops in Kosovo
The US praised Mr Haekkerup for helping bring peace to Kosovo
Mr Haekkerup's announcement also came as a surprise to the people of Kosovo.

An official from Kosovo's main political party said they had mixed feelings about Mr Haekkerup's departure.

"We supported Mr Haekkerup's activity at the beginning, but we also strongly rejected some of the documents he signed with Belgrade," Alush Gashi, of the Democratic League of Kosovo, told Reuters news agency.

The head of the Serbian group in the Kosovan assembly, Rada Trajkovic, however, praised Mr Haekkerup's record.

"I think that it is not good that this happened at this moment. I am sorry he is leaving," she said.

Key player

Mr Haekkerup, a former Danish defence minister, became Kosovo's UN administrator last January after replacing Bernard Kouchner, and he was expected to renew his contract for another year.

He played a key role in the political process leading to Kosovo's first general elections in November after the Nato bombing campaign against Yugoslavia in 1999.

His office drafted a UN blueprint for new provisional institutions and also helped to persuade Belgrade to encourage Kosovo Serbs to participate in the vote.

Mr Haekkerup's resignation comes two weeks before the second session of the Kosovo parliament, which failed to elect a president earlier this month.

Some ethnic Albanians criticised him for the way he handled the inaugural session, which was marred by a walkout of the province's second largest party.

See also:

15 Jan 01 | Europe
Kosovo UN boss makes poll pledge
15 Jan 01 | Europe
Kosovo boss faces tightrope walk
09 Dec 00 | Europe
Dane named as new Kosovo chief
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