Liberation Of Kosovo: Reconstruction: UN unveils plan to rebuild province

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The Independent Online
THE UNITED Nations unveiled its blueprint for the administration of the new Kosovo yesterday, while in the shattered capital Pristina the UN's special representative called the massive task of rebuilding the province "the greatest challenge" the organisation has faced in its history.

Sergio Vieira de Mello, the new UN proconsul for Kosovo, announced that moves to set up an administration had begun. He also said a multi-ethnic and independent judiciary and civil service, and a non-political police force, would be created.

The UN has taken over the former Yugoslav army headquarters in Pristina. A recruitment drive has already started in New York for officials who will administer the capital, the five major districts, and the 29 municipalities.

The judiciary will be formed from the province's legal profession and will include a retired justice of the supreme court. While the new police force is being formed, police officers from other countries will be seconded to look after law and order and set up a training scheme.

However, there is rising concern about the role of the Kosovo Liberation Army. Although an agreement on demilitarisation has apparently been reached between the KLA and Nato, confrontations between their forces persists on the ground.

Over one 24-hour period, Italian soldiers of Nato's Kosovo Force seized an arsenal from KLA vehicles including 3,280 mortar rounds, 560 anti- personnel mines, 39 anti-tank missiles and 79 anti-tank rockets. In other incidents, US Marines arrested a sniper who had shot dead three civilians, and German forces raided the KLA officers club in Prizren. In the French sector, six KLA members were arrested for alleged robbery.

Mr de Mello said he was fully aware of the problems posed by the KLA. He invited the organisation to demilitarise and join the political process.

However, the invitation to KLA members to join the new civil police force has caused widespread unease. Many Kosovo Albanians fear that the guerrilla group will simply change its uniform and continue to have a role of armed influence over the political process in the province.

Under the agreement with Nato the KLA will have to demilitarise within 90 days. But there is confusion over the definition of `demilitarisation'. Mr de Mello said that in his view the KLA should disarm completely, but some senior Nato officers were under the impression that KLA members will be allowed to keep their side-arms.

Yesterday, while British paratroopers were forcing members of the KLA in Pristina to give up their arms and change into civilian clothing, north of the capital, in Podujevo, KLA members were openly carrying semi- automatic rifles. The army had also taken over a number of government buildings.

Throughout the province the KLA was also attempting to control the distribution of fuel. At a time of acute shortages, this will give them enormous leverage in the power struggle.

Mr de Mello, however, said he believed that the KLA leaders will accept "the rules of the game". He said he also wanted Serbians "whose conscience was clear" to remain behind in Kosovo.

More than 100,000 ethnic Albanian civil servants sacked by the Serbian regime will be asked to reapply for their posts. The Belgrade government also forced out Albanians in the local media, and Mr de Mello announced that the Swiss government will set up a UN radio station to which local journalists will get faxes.

However, there are already complaints by the public in Pristina that the UN and Nato are failing to provide basic services. The capital's water supply has been off almost constantly in the seven days since Nato forces entered Kosovo and there is now a water shortage. Yesterday, people were asking why the Alliance's highly-trained army engineers had been unable to rectify the situation.