A former senior commander in the Kosovo Liberation Army has been named as the province’s new prime minister. Agim Ceku’s appointment has provoked negative reactions in Belgrade, where he’s been convicted of war crimes against Serbs. Ceku says he’s ready to take on the role in Kosovo’s interest, following the resignation of his predecessor Bajram Kosumi.
Still officially part of Serbia, Kosovo has been under UN protection since 1999. Negotiations on the province’s future are due to restart later this month. Ceku who’s 45 was a commander in the KLA which fought Serb forces during the conflict in the 1990s. He now heads a civil protection force made up of former rebel fighters. News of the appointment came during the visit of the UN’s chief mediator in the Kosovo talks. Martii Ahtisaari played down its significance, saying he didn’t think it would have a negative effect on the negotiations. Ceku’s appointment has to be approved by Kosovo’s parliament. His first task will be to form a government. In Pristina the arrival of a man Belgrade has judged to be a convicted war criminal will test all sides’ negotiating skills to the limit.