US, WASHINGTON (ORDO NEWS) — The international judiciary may end the undisputed rule of former rebels of Kosovo, who were heroes of the battle against Serbian injustice and became accused of committing war crimes, ushering in a new era expected by analysts.
The fall of Hashim Taji, the regional strongman who was forced to resign from the head of state, was harsh, as were the many former leaders who were honored for having liberated Kosovo from Serbia in 1998-1999.
When they appeared last month before the Special Court in The Hague, the aura surrounding these combatants, who exchanged their uniforms, with uniforms, was less glamorous than it had been at the end of the conflict.
In the eyes of their opponents, they embody a political elite clinging to power and tainted through corruption and cronyism the beginnings of an independent Kosovo, many of which are still poor.
They became so strong and accumulated wealth to the point that it became impossible to overthrow them, said Ismat Suefa, a 66-year-old retired English teacher. Only The Hague can bring them down from heaven to earth, he added.
Hashem Taji and four other former fighters are accused of murder, torture, persecution and other crimes.
The situation seems complicated. Most citizens fiercely defend a just war that paved the way for the declaration of independence in 2008. But others are tired of the rebels themselves.
There is nothing they have not done to our people. They have almost destroyed the country, said a tea seller in Pristina.
– New generation –
Trials could last a long time, possibly eight years. Behlul Beqaj, a professor of political science, believes that a new chapter could open in the absence of the accused. This is the beginning of the end of the era of the powerful military-political group that has put Kosovo in this situation, he told AFP.
Hashem Taji, the Kosovar Democratic Party, had appeared to face problems in 2019 when it was removed from power following a historic defeat in the legislative elections.
But in the absence of a sufficiently powerful alternative to rule alone, political life in Kosovo remains tied to alliances between parties forged to create fragile coalitions, or bad ones.
Nevertheless, Behlul Beqaj hopes that the young political elite that emerged after the war will fill the void left by the accused.
Arben Hajrullahu, professor of political science at the University of Pristina, also sees it as a rare opportunity (…) for a new generation of politicians who are educated abroad.
But he warns that many figures from the former insurgency still occupy important positions and will not easily abandon them.
Albanian separatist rebels who gathered under the banner of the Kosovo Liberation Army in the 1990s emerged in response to the oppression of former Belgrade strongman Slobodan Milosevic.
The war resulted in the deaths of 13 thousand people, most of them Albanians, and ended in 1999 after a bombing campaign by NATO.
The Kosovo Liberation Army was formally dissolved, but its victorious members worked to consolidate their power and remove their rivals, including by partially eliminating them.
– At the bottom –
The Kosovar Democratic Party, which won the legislative elections in 2007, has dominated political life for more than a decade. The former rebels are now the center of a national anthem, statues and streets bearing their names. Hashem Taji became prime minister, minister of foreign affairs and then president in 2016.
And revealed the domination of those close to Hashem Taji over the state apparatus, the media and the judiciary, with the publication of recordings of his conversations with his allies, in which he heard that positions were granted on the basis of loyalty.
The former president and his allies used all their interpersonal skills to undermine the Kosovar judiciary’s investigations into possible crimes of the Kosovo Liberation Army and tried to influence the work of the Hague Tribunal, which was established in 2015.
The special prosecutors wrote that the suspects had a tremendous influence on the former members of the Kosovo Liberation Army and Kosovo in general, calling for the issuance of arrest warrants against them.
The same source said that officials loyal to Hashem Taji organized government bribes and granted public offices to silence potential witnesses.
The Hague incidents are an indication of the decline in the support enjoyed by Hashim Taji from Western countries, whose main concern has always been to ensure regional stability, even at the expense of the integrity of democratic institutions.
Taji received Washington’s support in particular. Joe Biden, who was then Vice President of the United States, likened him to the first president of the United States, calling him George Washington of Kosovo.
Albolene Obragda, 22, accuses economics student Taji of saying he and those close to him sought to feed themselves (…) and left us at the bottom.
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