Profile: Ramush Haradinaj

Published on March 9, 2005, BBC

Category: Meet the Muslim Albanian Leaders

By Nick Hawton, BBC News, Sarajevo

Before his resignation, his colourful past made him stand out among the new generation of Kosovo politicians. Born in western Kosovo in 1968, he, like many others, completed military service with the old Yugoslav army. He claims his attempts to further his education in Pristina were blocked by the then Serb authorities. He emigrated to Switzerland in 1989 and spent nine years in a number of jobs. These included working as a security guard at sporting events and pop concerts.

Brothers killed
Mr Haradinaj returned to Kosovo in early 1998 as violence broke out between Albanian guerrillas and the Serb security forces. He became a regional commander of the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) in the west of the province. Two of his brothers were killed during the conflict. After the war, in between studying law at Pristina University, he set up a political party - the Alliance for the Future of Kosovo. In the last elections in October 2004, his party came third, forming a coalition government with Kosovo's largest party. Mr Haradinaj, 36, was chosen as prime minister.

Storm clouds
Western diplomats say in the few months that he was leader, he showed himself to be able, dynamic and extremely hard-working. But the storm clouds were gathering towards the end of 2004, when he was interviewed by UN war crimes investigators looking into the alleged murders of 40 civilians in western Kosovo during the conflict. On 8 March, the tribunal confirmed that he had been indicted, but did not disclose the charges against him. Mr Haradinaj strenuously denies any involvement. The former prime minister enjoys a widespread following within the Kosovo Albanian community - and hundreds turned out to see him off as he flew to the Netherlands to face the charges. He urged calm in the province during his absence.

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