Kosovo's prime minister unexpectedly quits ahead of ICC appearance
July 19 2019 07:48 PM
Kosovo Prime Minister Ramush Haradinaj speaks during a press conference at the government headquarte
Kosovo Prime Minister Ramush Haradinaj speaks during a press conference at the government headquarters in Pristina

dpa/Budapest

Kosovo's premier resigned unexpectedly on Friday, saying he wanted to appear at his upcoming questioning at the International Criminal Court (ICC) "as a citizen, not prime minister."
However, Ramush Haradinaj, who is set to appear before the Hague-based court next week, will remain in office until a successor is named, according to Kosovan media reports.
It was not immediately clear whether Haradinaj was invited to the ICC as a witness or accused; during the Albanian portion of the press conference, he said he was only being questioned, while he described himself to journalists in Serbian as an "accused."
He is accused of war crimes against the Serbian people during the 1999 Kosovo War. 
He was a regional commander in the Kosovo Liberation Army, a paramilitary group fighting for independence.
A special court was established in 2017 to look at alleged crimes committed by the Kosovo Liberation Army by ethnic Albanians against Serbs in the armed conflict, which lasted between 1998 and 2000. 
Haradinaj has served as prime minister since September 2017.
He founded the Alliance for the Future of Kosovo (AAK) party in 2000, which he has headed since then. He first served as prime minister in 2004, before stepping down due to a war crimes indictment in 2005 at the UN International Criminal Tribunal for former Yugoslavia. 
He was cleared of all charges in 2008, with the final appeals verdict n 2012.
is resignation now means that President Hashim Thaci has 45 days to name a successor or must call new elections. Around 90 per cent of Kosovo's population is ethnically Albanian. 
In 1998, they rebelled against Serbian oppression, leading to an all-out war and an indiscriminate, heavy-handed crackdown on the population. The Serbs mostly live in enclaves, with the Mitrovica area bordering Serbia proper in the north.
In 1999, NATO intervened, ousting Belgrade's forces from the territory and paving the way for Kosovo to declare independence nine years later.



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