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Yugoslavia: Rugova Leaves Kosovo After Brief Return

Pristina, 16 July 1999 (RFE/RL) - Kosovar Albanian leader Ibrahim Rugova is due to return to Kosovo within the next few days after unexpectedly leaving the province last night. The vice president of Rugova's Democratic League of Kosovo, Edita Tahiri, said Rugova left Kosovo last night but will return next week to "restart work as president of Kosovo." Western news agencies quote an unnamed Rugova aide as saying he left to organize a Kosovo leadership group outside the province. Rugova's current whereabouts are unknown. Rugova returned to Kosovo yesterday after almost two months in exile in Italy and immediately issued a call for reconciliation.

But Rugova ruled out any cooperation with his main rival, Hashim Thaci, the political leader of the Kosovo Liberation Army (UCK). Thaci has proclaimed himself head of a UCK-led provisional government.

Thaci yesterday said he felt "very good" about Rugova's return and added that there is room in the province for the LDK leader.

Also yesterday, Rugova met with the incoming head of the UN administration in Kosovo, Bernard Kouchner, who said true peace in Kosovo remains some way off but that all parties must work to create a democratic and just self-government in Kosovo.