Kosovo media have announced the death of President Ibrahim Rugova. The 61-year-old was diagnosed with lung cancer in September 2005 and had been undergoing treatment at his residence in Pristina. His death comes just days before the United Nations is due to launch negotiations to decide whether Kosovo’s majority ethnic Albanians win the outright independence they want.
Kosovo, which legally remains part of Serbia, has been run by the UN since 1999, when NATO bombing drove out Serb forces who had been accused of atrocities against separatist rebels. Rugova has no clear successor in his faction-ridden Democratic League of Kosovo and no plans for his replacement at the helm of the Kosovo negotiating team have been announced.