KLA leader fails to show for Kosovo advisers meeting
August 21, 1999
PRISTINA, Kosovo -- A hoped-for meeting between all the major political figures in postwar Kosovo failed to materialize Saturday when a top Kosovo Liberation Army leader did not attend.
The second meeting of the Kosovo Transitional Council went on without the ethnic Albanian separatists' political chief, Hashim Thaci.
The first meeting of the council, held early last month, was also missing a key player. Thaci's rival, Ibrahim Rugova, refused to attend the first meeting, saying he wanted his Democratic League of Kosovo to have more representation. But Rugova had promised to attend Saturday's meeting.
Thaci had been out of the country for several days leading up to the meeting in Pristina. but the United Nations, which organized the council, gave no indication Thaci was not expected to attend.
With Thaci absent this month, following Rugova's absence last month, the U.N. administration faced a stiff challenge to persuade rival Albanians to work together -- as well as with Kosovo's minorities.
The Kosovo Transitional Council was formed to advise the international officials running the Yugoslav province until elections can be held. U.N. officials hoped that the 13-member council, made up of majority ethnic Albanians, Serbs and other minorities, could help ease tensions between Kosovo's ethnic populations.
Albanians in Kosovo endured years of oppression under Yugoslav rule. But after NATO's 11-week air war drove the Yugoslavs out of the province, Albanians began exacting retribution against Kosovo's Serbs.
Saturday's meeting was originally rescheduled for July 26, but was postponed when 14 Serb farmers were slaughtered in a wheat field near Gracko. That massacre was the worst single incident since the Yugoslav conflict ended earlier in the month.
NATO peacekeepers said the most recent attack came in the town of Crkvena Vodica, where gunmen carried out a drive-by shooting and grenade attack on a Serb cafe and threw a grenade into a children's playground.
Four people were wounded at the cafe, none at the playground. Serbs blame the KLA for the attacks.
Reuters contributed to this report.
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