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Kosovo: Ethnic Albanian Leaders Break Deadlock

Prishtina, 28 February 2002 (RFE/RL) -- Kosovo's ethnic Albanian leaders signed a long-awaited agreement to share power in the multiethnic assembly today. The deal, which ends three months of political deadlock, calls for ethnic Albanian leader Ibrahim Rugova to be president. Rugova's League of Democratic Kosovo party won 46 seats in the 120-seat multiethnic assembly but has lost in three consecutive bids in the assembly to be elected the province's president.

The deal calls for the post of prime minister to be given to Bajram Rexhepi. Rexhepi is with the Democratic Party of Kosovo (PDK) party, which is the second-strongest party in the parliament with 26 seats and is led by former rebel leader Hashim Thaci.

Today's agreement calls for a session of Kosovo's assembly to be held on 4 March to approve the document.

UN administrator Michael Steiner will retain the power to block any moves he deems are contrary to UN Security Council Resolution 1244 of June 1999, which ended the war in Kosovo.

The president and provincial government are designed to administer the province along with the United Nations and NATO. The Western organizations have ruled Kosovo since 1999, after Western air strikes ended former Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic's crackdown on independence-minded ethnic Albanians.