The Balkans Truce So what sort of peace will it be?: The Protectorate - Huge job faces new governor

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WHO WILL risk their career for the make-or-break assignment of the new millennium - the post of civilian governor of Kosovo?

The job of running Mostar, or even the whole of Bosnia after the Dayton peace deal, may have been suitable for retired German mayors and Swedish diplomats, but the Kosovo job will need to entice candidates of a different calibre.

In Bosnia, the job of the UN's civilian "High Representative", Carl Bildt, was to oversee the work of functioning civic communities and adjudicate over thorny issues such as Bosnia's future national flag and the design of car number plates. In Kosovo, the international community's task will be to rebuild a community from scratch. It is a job without parallel. Potential governors will be reaching for their history books, for clues about how the old League of Nations "mandated" territories functioned after the First World War.

The new governor and his officials will have to recreate political and civic structures that fell to pieces not 73 days ago, when Nato's air war with Belgrade started, but 10 years ago, when Slobodan Milosevic scrapped Kosovo's autonomy, shut down the parliament and imprisoned the popular former communist leader, Azem Vlasi. Whoever runs the protectorate will have to be a master diplomat as well as a top-class administrator. He or she will have to liaise with the UN-appointed peace implementation force and not tread on the generals' toes. Belgrade will have to be soothed that the fig leaf of Serbian "sovereignty" is being maintained and that the remaining Serb civilians are being shielded from revenge.

Effectively, the governor will act as a head of state, placating Kosovo's anxious Balkan neighbours that the virus of war and anarchy is not going to spread across their borders. The jostling powers within the UN Security Council, who will nominate and pay for Kosovo's civilian chief, will have to be satisfied that "Kosovo protectorate" is not a euphemism for "Anglo- American colony".