BREAKING NEWS ~ Kosovo PM resigns after war crimes indictment issued

BREAKING NEWS ~ Kosovo PM resigns after war crimes indictment issued

[JURIST] AP is reporting that Kosovo prime minister Ramush Haradinaj [official website, English version] has resigned after being indicted for war crimes by the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia at The Hague. The indictment, anticipated yesterday [JURIST report] but still not formally announced by the court, is in connection with Haradinaj's activities as a senior Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) guerilla commander during the campaign against the Serbian government of the former Yugoslav province in 1999. BBC News says that Haradinaj, who had promised to co-operate with the tribunal, will fly to The Hague on Wednesday.

8:17 AM ET – In anticipation of possible civic unrest following news of the indictment the NATO-led KFOR [official website] international peacekeeping force in Kosovo has brought in some 500 extra British troops, and UN authorities attached to UNMIK [official website], the United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo, have raised their threat level in western Kosovo, Haradinaj's traditional power base, and have warned some of the UN's non-essential personnel to stay off the streets. Reuters has more.

8:25 AM ET – UNMIK administrator Saren Jessen-Peterson [official profile] has now issued a statement from Pristina, praising Haradinaj's decision to co-operate with the tribunal and appealing for calm:

In his decision today, Mr. Haradinaj has once again put the interests of Kosovo above his own personal interests. It is important that the people of Kosovo respond with the same dignity and maturity as that shown by Ramush Haradinaj.

I understand the sense of shock and anger over this development. I appeal, however, to the people of Kosovo to express your feelings through peaceful means. A violent response will not help Kosovo. It will only serve the interests of those determined to block Kosovo’s way forward. It will be a major setback to everything Kosovo has achieved recently and it will defeat all the recent achievements, notably those reached during Mr. Haradinaj’s leadership.

The decision announced by Mr. Haradinaj to co-operate with the Tribunal, despite his firm conviction of innocence, and although painful for him, his family, Kosovo and for his many friends and partners, including in UNMIK, is at the same time an example of Kosovo's growing political maturity as a responsible member of the international community. I trust that Mr. Haradinaj will again be able to serve Kosovo to whose better future he has sacrificed and contributed so much.

It is important that we all remain calm and dignified during these difficult days. In accordance with the Constitutional Framework and applicable regulation, the Deputy Prime Minister will temporarily lead the Government. Meanwhile, I will work with the political leaders of Kosovo to make sure that, as soon as possible, there is a government in place that can continue, without delay and disruption, the work that will bring Kosovo towards a comprehensive review of standards this summer and into status talks later this year.

Read the full text of the statement [PDF]

8:37 AM ET – The US Office in Pristina has issued this warning to US nationals in Kosovo:

US Office Pristina (USOP) wishes to alert American citizens in Kosovo, particularly Pristina, to the possibility of protest demonstrations in reaction to news about International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY) proceedings. While we are not aware of any scheduled demonstrations at this time, we wish to remind American citizens that even demonstrations intended to be peaceful can turn confrontational and possibly escalate into violence. American citizens are therefore urged to avoid the areas of demonstrations if possible, and to exercise caution within the vicinity of any demonstrations.
Read the full text of the warden message.

8:45 AM ET – Review Haradinaj's statement announcing his resignation and pending surrender to the Hague war crimes tribunal [in Albanian].

11:58 AM ET- Radio B92 in Belgrade reports that the war crimes tribunal has confirmed the existence of the indictment against Haradinaj but says that details of the charges against him would not be published until Haradinaj arrives at its Scheveningen detention centre [BBC report].