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Last Updated: Thursday, 2 March 2006, 20:13 GMT
Former rebel set to lead Kosovo
Agim Ceku
Mr Ceku's appointment could further strain ties with Serbia
Former rebel leader Agim Ceku has been formally nominated to be the new prime minister of Kosovo.

Kosovo's president, Fatmir Sejdiu, issued a statement calling on him to form a new government.

This follows the resignation of Bajram Kosumi a day earlier amid widespread criticism of his administration.

The controversial appointment could further strain ties with Serbia, which has accused the former rebel leader of war crimes.

Mr Ceku, 45, an ethnic Albanian, was a commander of the Kosovo Liberation Army which fought against Serbian forces for independence in the late 1990s.

Before that, he fought with the Croatian army against the Serbs during the break up of Yugoslavia.

He is currently the head of the Kosovo Protection Corps, a civil emergency force.

Serbia has issued an arrest warrant for him, accusing him of crimes against Serbians in both Kosovo and Croatia.

The change comes less than two weeks after UN-sponsored talks on the future of Kosovo began in the Austrian capital, Vienna. Diplomats hope the talks may lead to a deal on Kosovo's status this year.

The BBC's Gabriel Partos says Mr Ceku is very popular among Kosovo Albanians and has been seen as a dynamic leader. But his appointment might make Belgrade more reluctant to engage in the negotiating process on Kosovo's status, he says.

Kosovo Albanians, who make up the majority, want independence for the province, still legally part of Serbia and Montenegro. But Serbia is concerned about the rights of the Serb minority.


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