War In The Balkans: The Balkan Question Key issues behind the war explained

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The Independent Online
Who are the leaders of the Kosovo Albanians?

The Kosovars suffer from the fact that their leadership is not united. In the 1980s most of them supported the local Communist leadership under Azem Vlassi, which wanted increased autonomy within Yugoslavia.

After Slobodan Milosevic abolished Kosovo's autonomy in 1989, leadership passed to the non-Communist League for a Democratic Kosovo (LDK), led by Ibrahim Rugova, a writer. This party demanded total independence for Kosovo and financed a parallel society of schools and hospitals throughout the province by levying a tax on the incomes of the hundreds of thousands of Kosovo Albanians working abroad.

Although strictly non-violent, it successfully ordered the population to boycott state institutions and local and presidential elections.

In the past two years the leadership has split into many factions. Hardliners in the LDK, tired of Rugova's non- violent approach, split off and followed the veteran dissident Adem Demaqi into a new party. Middle-class intellectuals also broke with the LDK, complaining that it was authoritarian. Others broke with the LDK over its pacifism by joining a new guerrilla army, the Kosovo Liberation Army, led by Hasim Thaqi.

Today, Rugova is in Pristina, a virtual prisoner of the Serbs who want to use his LDK to broker their own deal on Kosovo's future.

The KLA, meanwhile, is based in Albania and in parts of Kosovo and has set up its own provisional government.

Both groups have their own representatives abroad, fighting for control over the LDK's once considerable funds.