Who leads the LDK?

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The death of Kosovo’s president Ibrahim Rugova created several vacuums in Kosovo’s political scene – not least in the Democratic League of Kosovo (LDK), the party that he led for 16 years.

BIRN Kosovo director Jeta Xharra recently hosted a debate on the LDK, examining its internal turmoil and speculating on who will emerge to lead the party – and when they will be elected to office.

The panel included four LDK members – its vice-president Eqrem Kryeziu; Besa Gaxherri from the Women’s Forum of LDK, Lulzim Zeneli from the Youth Forum and Ali Lajci, head of Peja/Pec municipality, representing the municipal divisions of the party.

The debate was preceded and advertised by two articles written in the Express daily newspaper as the first time that the LDK leaders would have the opportunity to raise their differences in a public forum since the death of Rugova.

Trying to define who is actually leading the LDK, Eqrem Kryeziu said that “based on the statute of the party, at the time when there is no president, the party is leaded by three vice-presidents and the secretary general”.

Kryeziu believes that internal party elections should be postponed. “We need more time to fill the gap after Rugova’s death,” he said, adding that the leadership also needed time to explain its reasons for removing high-profile party members Nexhat Daci and Adem Salihaj in the wake of Rugova’s death.

Kryeziu also said that the “LDK is not looking for an iconic leader, but for a leading mechanism” – an idea that was supported by all panelists in this debate.

Commenting on the creation of two factions within the LDK – one led by Kryeziu, Fatmir Sejdiu, Kole Berisha and Sabri Hamiti, and the other led by the discharged Daci and Salihaj – Kryeziu said that “these groups were made due to major institutional changes that happened recently, they are not factions of the same party but rather more like two different alternatives”.

Sitting next to Kryeziu, Besa Gaxherri described him as “hurried” when explaining the recent institutional changes, which she believed were “wrong” and “not according to the party protocols”.

Gaxheri said that she would not agree with the postponement of the party elections, stressing that the field operators of the LDK like herself expect elections to be held in already set time of early June and not be delayed further. She also expressed dissatisfaction with Kryeziu’s interim leadership.

“I have no idea [where the party stands on] important issues, such decentralisation and Mitrovica for example. Do we have a policy on that?” she asked Kryeziu.

Although the panelists tried to give an impression of unification, they seemed to split into two groups during the debate – those who want party elections to happen now and those who want to delay them after the deadline of June 2006.

Lulezim Zeneli said that if elections are postponed, the structures of LDK will be illegitimate. “With the election process we will [impose] legitimacy on the LDK leadership,” he said.

Commenting on the recently created divisions within the party, Ali Lajci described them as just alternative opinions. “There are no factions within LDK since there is no more than one programme and one platform,” he said.

In the other hand Lajci pointed out that LDK has its executive bodies such as general council and that “all these issues should be discussed and decided there”. But he stressed that the party hierarchy should decide soon if elections are to be held in June, or later in the year.