CEOL - Thaci urges quick power-sharing

PRISTINA, Dec 13, 1999 -- (Reuters) The leader of Kosovo's self-proclaimed provisional government has urged the territory's U.N. mission to speed up the process of forming a joint administration with local politicians.

"It should be formed very quickly. Time is running out," Hashim Thaci, a former commander of the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA), told Reuters.

U.N. officials and local leaders have been working for months on a formula to get politicians from Kosovo more directly involved in the international administration established here in June, after NATO bombing drove out Serb forces.

Currently, the U.N.-led administration is the only legal authority but it faces competition and duplication from other local authorities.

Thaci's administration is not recognized as a government by the U.N. mission, known as UNMIK, but its leaders are regularly consulted by U.N. officials. The United Nations on Sunday marks exactly six months in charge of Kosovo.

The KLA, an ethnic Albanian guerrilla group which fought for more than a year against Serb rule in Kosovo, formally disbanded in September but several of its leaders such as Thaci have assumed prominent political roles.

Thaci, 30, said it was vital to launch a co-administration, as his officials had the local knowledge which foreign administrators could not match.

"We have the structures, which in every single municipality are cooperating with UNMIK," he said.

U.N. officials generally give a mixed report, suggesting cooperation is better in some areas than others and complaining that some of the parallel institutions are far from transparent and democratic.

Thaci insisted his officials were ready to form the new administration straight away but were running into objections from his main political rival Ibrahim Rugova and from Bernard Kouchner, the French head of the U.N. mission.

"Mr. Kouchner and Mr. Rugova are not ready to form that body," he said in an interview conducted on Friday.

Merging the structures would help deal more effectively with many of the problems faced by the war-shattered territory, he said, citing crime fighting as a key area.

He said the United Nations appeared scared to give power to local people. "They are very much afraid of a Kosovo political factor in an executive body," Thaci said.

A veil of secrecy surrounds talks on co-administration but the United Nations insists it is keen to involve members of Kosovo's ethnic Albanian majority and leaders of minority groups as soon as possible.

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