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Kosovo President Relinquishes Party Leadership

24 February 2005 - Kosovo President Ibrahim Rugova yesterday stepped down as head of the province's largest political party, the Democratic League of Kosovo.

Rugova, who led the ethnic Albanian pro-independence movement against the rule of former Yugoslav strongman Slobodan Milosevic in the 1990s, was reelected Kosovo president following last year's parliamentary elections.

Western diplomats insisted that Rugova give up the party leadership, describing his dual role as an "obstacle to democratic developments" in the internationally-administrated province.

Ethnically divided Kosovo has been administered by the United Nations since the 1999 NATO air war forced a halt to a crackdown by Serbian troops on Albanian rebels.