Kosovo. According to
Countryaah, the Kosovo Albanian UCPMB guerrilla continued its
acts of violence in the region around the border in the east
towards the rest of Serbia at the beginning of the year. The
guerrillas, the Liberation Army of Presevo, Medvedja and
Bujanovac, wanted to incorporate Albanian-dominated parts of
the Presevo Valley with an independent Kosovo.
In February, 7 civilian Serbs were killed and 21 injured
when a bus was blown up in the air on the road between Niš
in southern Serbia and Podujevo in northern K. The bus was
part of a column with six other buses and with an escort of
the NATO-led KFOR force. The attack contributed to NATO's
decision at the end of the month to scrap the security zone
set up along the border after the 1999 war, mainly to
protect KFOR. The Yugoslav military was not allowed to stay
in the zone, which stretched half a mile into Serbia and
used the guerrillas for attack in the Presevo Valley. NATO
also tightened security in the area.
In March, UCPMB agreed to a ceasefire, just hours after
Yugoslav soldiers began to regain the buffer zone.
Occasional violence continued to flare up, and in mid-May,
14 guerrillas were killed in a fire. However, in accordance
with the ceasefire agreement, Yugoslavia was able to send
4,000 soldiers and police on May 24 to occupy the remaining
part of the zone. Albanian guerrillas had then for several
weeks surrendered to KFOR and allowed themselves to be
disarmed. They had been promised impunity. Many Albanians in
the security zone fled to Kosovo before entering the army.
However, the Yugoslav authorities promised to respect the
human rights of all residents.
In May, the UN administration in Kosovo, UNMIK, outlined how
self-government should be designed in the disputed province,
which has in effect become an international protectorate.
Parliamentary elections were planned in November, but UNMIK
retained control of taxes and budget, the judiciary and the
civilian force that replaced the disbanded Albanian UCK
guerrilla. The new parliament was given the right to decide
on health care, education and the environment. Albanian
leader Ibrahim Rugova's party LDK won the election by a good
margin over two parties led by former guerrilla leaders.
Rugova was long regarded as a moderate force, and many were
therefore surprised when, even before the result was clear,
he made a provocative statement that his highest priority
was independence for Kosovo. It turned out that LDK did not get
his own majority, which the party victoriously counted on.