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Moscow Babylon February 26, 2008
Kosovo Madness: Get Me Outta Here!
By Mark Ames Browse author Email
Page 3 of 5

When German soldiers arrived on the scene to investigate, two more bombs went off. It's the oldest terrorist trap in the book, lure 'em in and bomb 'em all, although this was clearly a warning: none of the German soldiers suffered bodily injury, although four were hospitalized for shock.

A few days later, the local leader of the PDK party (the KLA's political arm) was arrested for planting the bombs. Although he's in jail (along with another local PDK leader recently arrested for possession of illegal armaments), he's still allowed to run in this Saturday's municipal elections. As are all the suspected and/or convicted KLA dons.

And this is what all the ugliness is about. There are several insoluble issues in Kosovo which up to now have been allowed to simmer, but are about to converge in a highly explosive mixture. The unexpected victory of Vojislav Kostunica in Serbia, and the West's rush to embrace him, is the last thing this fucked up province needed. The reason is that Kosovar Albanians saw for the first time that the West doesn't hold a genetic hatred towards all Serbs the way they do, only towards the Milosevic family. This was a shock that most Albanians are still trying to swallow. Now, the municipal elections could be the last ingredient to a Die Hard 3-type explosion. Here's why.

Most polls of the Albanians show that the KLA's political enemy, Ibrahim Rugova's LDK party, has about 70-plus percent of the province's support. Rugova, an effete intellectual with a trademark silk scarf, and his LDK party advocate non-violence, tolerance and negotiation. In my 6 weeks here, I have only met two Albanians who don't support his party. Just two. What is at stake in the municipal elections is control over each municipality, from running the local services to issuing permits and licenses to administering budgets. Right now, there are two structures: the UN, which runs the budgets and makes the formal day-to-day decisions, and the KLA, which ignores the UN and runs things their own way, siphoning funds from the public utility works, building wherever it wants to, and fucking with its opponents at will. This dual-reality, which suits both the West (since it doesn't have to confront the KLA) and the KLA (since it gets to run and steal everything it wants) will, theoretically, come to an end this Saturday. There will be no more Join Interim Administration run by the UN and its appointees: rather, there will be a democratically elected power structure made up of moderate, intellectual Albanians.

That, of course, is the worse-case scenario. Ideally, the PDK/KLA will steal the elections, the OSCE will whitewash the theft, and the current tense standoff will continue, the showdown postponed until a later date, to be decided by other people. This isn't entirely impossible. One OSCE election official told me over the weekend that KLA attacks and intimidation on the Albanian population and on the LDK in particular have been so fierce that it looks like the Albanians will be successfully terrorized into voting their party, the PDK, into office. That would be a relief to most internationals, and it's likely that the Albanian population wouldn't rebel against such an outcome; they'd be too afraid to.

Nor will the OSCE likely rebel. Here I'll quote from their own recently released report on the upcoming Kosovo municipal election campaign violations, including their laughable slap-on-the-wrist punishments, which the OSCE is empowered to do, against the PDK/KLA:

"ECAC Case No. ME 2000/098 – Violence by PDK Supporters: On 21 September 2000, a group of supporters of the Democratic Party of Kosovo (PDK) attacked the Lipjan/Lipljan offices of the Democratic League of Kosovo (LDK) and officials who were present. The ECAC found PDK Lipjan/Lipljan to have violated Electoral Rule 2000/1 and fines the party branch 2,000 DEM.

The ECAC also reserved the right to recommend the removal of a candidate if the fine was not paid. […] On 30 September 2000, the Democratic Party of Kosovo (PDK) held a party gathering in Istog/Istok municipality. During the gathering, members of the audience spoke out loudly against the Democratic League of Kosovo (LDK), with one in the audience issuing threats to kill the local LDK representative. The ECAC decided that the PDK violated regulations on intimidation and violence by failing to actively condemn the threats. PDK Istok/Istog was fined 500 DEM and the ECAC reserved the right to recommend the removal of a candidate if the fine was not paid.[…] In the matter of written death threats received by nine members of the Democratic League of Kosovo (LDK) in Kamenic?/Kosovska Kamenica, the ECAC was unable to establish that the violation that took place was committed by a political entity or its supporters. The ECAC decided that sufficient evidence had not been produced and dismissed the complaint."

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