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profile 10 Dec 10

Ramush Haradinaj, leader of Alliance for the Future of Kosovo

Haradinaj, 42, studied law in Pristina before moving to Switzerland in 1989, joining the Kosovo Liberation army while working jobs ranging from construction to nightclub bouncer.

He returned to Kosovo in 1998 and became the commander of the Dukagjini (Western Kosovo) zone for the KLA. 

Tales of his bravery in battle consolidated his power base and popular appeal. After the end of the conflict, he became deputy commander of the Kosovo Protection Corps, a civil emergency force created by the UN to absorb the former rebels.

He formed the AAK in 2000 but made no political headway until the 2004 election when his party secured second place and he became Prime Minister through a coalition with Ibrahim Rugova’s Democratic League of Kosovo party. 

He resigned after 100 days in office to surrender for trial at the war crimes tribunal in The Hague.

His decision to leave Kosovo quietly and call for calm won him plaudits from a range of top international diplomats, including Robin Cook and Joe Biden. In April 2008 he was acquitted of torture, murder, rape and deportation and returned to Kosovo to a hero’s welcome.

Judges said the prosecution failed to prove a deliberate campaign to kill and expel Serb civilians from Kosovo, but prosecutors are persistent in complaining of witness intimidation throughout the trial.

The prosecution appealed and in July 2009 he was returned to The Hague for are retrial. Despite languishing in a prison cell, he remains the AAK’s top candidate for election. 

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