Profile 28 Oct 10

Ali Ahmeti: Rebel Turned Politician

Born in 1959 in Zajas, the former chief of the Albanian guerilla force that staged a six-month insurgency in 2001, leads the main ruling ethnic Albanian party, the Democratic Union for Integration, DUI.

Darko Duridanski

During the 1980s he was active in Albanian nationalist movements in Kosovo, which earned him a year in jail. Until 2001, he lived in Switzerland, where he obtained political asylum. In 1996, Ahmeti was a founder of the Kosovo Liberation Army, KLA and in 1998 was elected a member of the main staff of the KLA.

Back in Macedonia, Ahmeti became commander of the self-styled National Liberation Army, NLA that caused the six-month long armed conflict in 2001. That year, the US named the NLA a terrorist organisation and in June 2001 Ahmeti was put on the black list of people unwelcome in the US, Switzerland and other countries.

After the signing of the 2001 Ohrid Framework Accord, which ended the insurgency, the former fighters formed the DUI in June 2002, electing Ahmeti as president. In September 2002, the DUI won the elections among the Albanian parties and the DUI joined the coalition government with the Social Democrats. Ahmeti was also removed from the US black list.

After the July 2006 elections, the DUI left the government and in January 2007 began a boycott of parliament. This only ended in late 2007 after leaders of the main parties in the country reached a deal on further reforms, which the DUI sought. Ahmeti’s party became part of Gruevski’s government after the June 2008 elections.

Since his political career started in 2002, Ahmeti is known as the 'quiet man' who is working from behind the scenes and who never learned Macedonian. He always uses an interpreter when giving statements.

He is a politician who knows how to get what he wants. He succeeded in getting several controversial laws that gave more rights to the Albanians.

Since he got into the government with Gruevski, he is known as being co-operative on the name issue, saying that DUI will agree with every solution that is good for their Macedonian neighbors.

However his party is not satisfied with Macedonia being out of EU and NATO because of the name issue, so even though not directly from him there were signs given to VMRO-DPMNE that if the name issue is not resolved by the end of the year (2010) DUI could leave the governmental coalition.

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