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Thursday, February 25, 1999 Published at 20:39 GMT

World: Europe

Cracks appear in KLA

Fighting continues in Kosovo despite the peace talks

By BBC Southeast Europe Analyst Gabriel Partos

The chief political representative of the Kosovo Liberation Army, or KLA, Adem Demaci, has denounced the decision of ethnic Albanian leaders to form a new provisional government.

Kosovo Section
Mr Demaci's criticism followed reports that the three senior members of the Kosovar Albanian delegation at the Rambouillet peace talks had agreed to set up a government headed by a KLA nominated politician.

The Kosovar Albanians already have a government-in-exile, based in Germany, under the leadership of Bujar Bukoshi.

[ image: Mr Rugovia agreeing to share political power]
Mr Rugovia agreeing to share political power
It has been appointed by their long-standing political leader, Ibrahim Rugova, and is closely linked to his party, the Democratic League of Kosovo (DLK), which until the rise of the KLA dominated Kosovo's ethnic Albanian political life.

But there has been growing grass-roots demand from the KLA and radical Albanian politicians for the government to be more broad-based, and for it to be located in Kosovo.

In practical terms, that would mean a government based in KLA-controlled territory. That is because the Serbian authorities would be very unlikely to tolerate a Kosovar Albanian administration before a peace deal is concluded and implemented.

Rebel power

On Wednesday, Mr Rugova joined the leader of a more radical party, Rexhep Qosja, and the KLA's leader at the peace talks, Hashim Thaci, in reaching agreement that a provisional government should be set up.

[ image: Mr Demaci and Mr Thaci: No longer seeing eye to eye?]
Mr Demaci and Mr Thaci: No longer seeing eye to eye?
And in an acknowledgement that authority among Kosovo's Albanian community has shifted away from him, Mr Rugova apparently agreed that the prime minister should be nominated by the KLA.

That fulfills one of the KLA's persistent demands that it should be accorded the leading position in ethnic Albanian politics.

KLA sources now expect that the new provisional government will emerge before peace talks resume in France on 15 March.

Internal divisions

Yet if the planned new government is meant to paper over the cracks between the KLA on the one hand and the LDK moderates around Mr Rugova on the other, it has also reopened disagreements within the KLA's own ranks.

Angry that he had not been consulted beforehand, Mr Demaci denounced the deal on the new government and described it as "a feeble attempt by people who failed in the failed talks" at Rambouillet.

[ image: Hundreds of thousands of ethnic Albanians have fled their homes]
Hundreds of thousands of ethnic Albanians have fled their homes
Divisions within the KLA are not new. Mr Demaci had refused to go to Rambouillet; and his recommendation to the KLA that it should boycott the peace talks was ignored.

At the same time, Mr Demaci remains influential; and at the weekend the KLA's command ruled that no agreements should be reached without his approval.

Mr Demaci may not be objecting in principle to the deal on a new government; it is more a question of his wanting to be more fully involved in the shaping of that administration.

But one way or another the continuing disputes within the KLA as well as between the KLA and other ethnic Albanian movements are bound to take up much time and energy - particularly over the formation of the new government.

That could make it all the more difficult to reach a consensus in the next three weeks on signing the deal that was offered at Rambouillet.

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