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UN mission bans Serb officials from Kosovo

UN mission bans Serb officials from Kosovo By STEFAN RACIN

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  • Note from Emperor's Clothes: We are told by the Western press that Mr. Milosevich's government uses undemocratic means. One example was the measure, passed by vote of Parliament, to allow direct election of the Yugoslav President. We were puzzled at how that could be termed undemocratic, but so be it. Now, you will note, that the Yugoslav officials banned from entering Kosovo (an internationally recognized province of Serbia, which is part of Yugoslavia) are described as having been "bent on organizing next month's Yugoslav elections in the southern Serbian territory." Understandably, such behavior is not permitted in our brave new world.

BELGRADE, Yugoslavia, Aug. 22 (UPI) - The U.N. Mission in Kosovo has banned the provincial leader of Serbia's ruling Socialist Party and three other top party officials from entering Kosovo. The banned officials are bent on organizing next month's Yugoslav elections in the southern Serbian territory.

The Belgrade newspaper Blic reported Tuesday the ban was imposed on the president of the Socialist Party's Kosovo committee Zivorad Igic and three committee members, including Novak Bijelic, director of the Trepca industrial complex, which was taken over by force by U.N. peacekeeping troops on Aug. 14, on the ground that it was a major air polluter and required restructuring.

During a visit to the Trepca main smeltery at Zvecan, near Mitrovica, at the end of last week, UNMIK administrative chief Bernard Kouchner reportedly explained his decision to keep Bijelic away from the province by saying that "the director general of this concern has been creating problems and has refused to cooperate with UNMIK."

At the same time, Kouchner said that "the same measures will be applied to several other Serb officials who are spurning cooperation."

Blic said reporters were told of the ban by UNMIK police representatives in Mitrovica Monday. The paper recalled that the UNMIK regional administrator for North Kosovo, William Nash, had hinted last week that more than 10 Serbs were on a list of undesirable persons.

UNMIK police manning the checkpoint closest to the boundary between Kosovo and Serbia proper at the village of Donje Jerinje have received a list of nearly 30 people to be barred entry, Blic quoted UNMIK sources as saying. Apparently, Igic and the other three men are on the list.

The sources said the ban would last between 15 and 30 days but that this period could be extended, according to the paper.

Igic and the others may have gotten in trouble with UNMIK because of their activity in organizing the federal presidential, legislative and local elections on Sept. 24, without consulting Kouchner and UNMIK.

Igic was quoted by the Srna news agency as telling the provincial Socialist Party committee in Pristina that all polling stations in Kosovo would be open because "the federal elections have been scheduled for the whole of Yugoslavia and for all voters. Enough time remains until the polls for voter lists to be compiled."

The UNMIK spokeswoman, Susan Manuel, said in an interview that nobody had been in contact over this matter so far with Kouchner but that nobody had the mandate to interfere with citizens or stop them from exercising their voters rights. However, she warned that Kouchner "is now displaying enthusiasm" about the Yugoslav elections.

-- Copyright 2000 by United Press International. All rights reserved. --

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