UN focusing on law and order, elections and returns in Kosovo, Security Council told

5 September 2002

The United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) is continuing its efforts to uphold the rule of law, moving forward with preparations for the upcoming municipal elections and working on creating conditions conducive for the return of minority communities, a senior UN official told the Security Council today.

The United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) is continuing its efforts to uphold the rule of law, moving forward with preparations for the upcoming municipal elections and working on creating conditions conducive for the return of minority communities, a senior UN official told the Security Council today.

UN Assistant Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations Hédi Annabi said the recent arrests of several former members of the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA), including the detention last month of a former high-ranking officer suspected of illegally detaining, torturing and murdering five Kosovo Albanians in the late 1990s, had resulted in some tension.

While the Kosovo Albanian leadership had initially characterized the arrests as political, it now had a better understanding that they were the result of lengthy investigations carried out in accordance with established judicial procedures, Mr. Annabi told the open meeting, which was chaired by the Foreign Minister of Bulgaria, Solomon Passy, and saw the participation of nearly 20 speakers.

Meanwhile, preparations for Kosovo’s municipal elections on 26 October were proceeding smoothly, Mr. Annabi said, with the electoral campaign scheduled to begin on 10 September. As of 30 August, the Election Commission had certified 500 out of a total of 5,500 candidates, with the remaining candidates slated for certification this week. They came from a broad range of political entities: 21 were Kosovo Albanian, 26 Kosovo Serb, 5 Roma, Egyptian or Ashkali, 5 Bosniac/Gorani, and 1 from Kosovo’s Turkish community.

As for the return of internally displaced persons (IDPs), Mr. Annabi voiced concern over recent statements by Kosovo Serbs about plans to block crossing points on the boundary if they were not allowed to return en masse.

UNMIK’s return policy was based on the right of individual return in an organized, sustainable way, with careful preparation of infrastructure and inter-community relations, he stressed, adding that several incidents in recent months illustrated the fragility of the reconciliation and confidence-building process. Return-related projects required further funding as well, and the Mission had had extensive contact with the donor community toward that end.

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