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Thursday, 28 February, 2002, 11:21 GMT
Power-sharing deal reached in Kosovo
The Kosovo parliament convenes for the first time
Albanian MPs are expected to ratify the deal
Agreement has been reached in Kosovo clearing the way for moderate ethnic Albanian leader Ibrahim Rugova to head a power-sharing government.

The deal, ending three months of political deadlock in the Balkan province, was announced by the United Nations top administrator, Michael Steiner.

Moderate Albanian leader, Ibrahim Rugova
Ibrahim Rugova will become president
Mr Steiner said the agreement would pass to the provincial assembly for ratification, probably next week.

Mr Rugova's Democratic League of Kosovo won last November's elections, but his party fell short of an overall majority.

Deadlock resulted when he refused to appoint a prime minister from the rival Democratic Party of Kosovo (PDK) - formed out of the former rebels of the Kosovo Liberation Army.

But under the new deal, he has agreed to appoint PDK's Bajram Rexhepi to the post.

Compromise

The deal was reached after several hours of talks lasting into the night.

"I am very happy to tell you that after rather long discussions everybody has shown in the end [readiness] to make an effort and we have an agreement," Mr Steiner told reporters in the Kosovo capital, Pristina.

PDK leader Hashim Thaci
Mr Thaci wanted more power in a coalition
"I think the next decision to be taken is by the assembly and I hope that early next week we will have formalised what has been decided here tonight."

Mr Rugova said the deal was "an important step... to create the institutions" of Kosovo.

The agreement was made possible after the moderate Albanian leader conceded to demands by his arch political rival, Hashim Thaci, the former head of the rebel KLA and now PDK leader.

Mr Thaci described the accord as a compromise.


We have made an important step and reached an agreement to create the institutions

Ibrahim Rugova
No details have been given of other members of the cabinet, which will also include officials from the third largest ethnic Albanian party, the Alliance for the Future of Kosovo (AAK), led by former KLA commander Ramush Haradinaj.

But Kosovo's Serbian minority is reported to have two posts, including that of a deputy prime minister.

The new cabinet will exercise its functions alongside the UN and Nato, which have been ruling the province since 1999, after Nato drove out Serb forces.

See also:

10 Jan 02 | Europe
Kosovo fails to elect leader
28 Dec 01 | Europe
UN's Kosovo chief resigns
19 Nov 01 | Europe
New dawn for Kosovo
04 Feb 00 | Europe
Analysis: Protecting the Serbs
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