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Kosovo: New president handpicked by Americans, predecessor says

last update: April 08, 16:58

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(AKI) – Former Kosovo president Bedzet Pacoli said on Friday his successor Atifete Jahjaga, who was elected by parliament, was in fact handpicked by the US ambassador to Pristina Christopher Dell.

Pacoli spent only one month in office and resigned last month after the constitutional court ruled the there had been irregularities in his election.

To break the political deadlock, the ruling Democratic Party of Kosovo, its coalition partner Alliance for new Kosovo and the opposition Democratic Alliance of Kosovo had agreed to field Jahjaga as a joint candidate.

But Pacoli told Pristina channel “TV Clan”, Jahjaga actually wasn’t a candidate of the three main parties, but of the Americans.

He described how Dell pulled out an envelope at a meeting with prime minister Hashim Thaci, Pacoli and opposition leader Isa Mustafa with Jahjaga’s name and said she was the candidate.

When Thaci and Mustafa heard the proposal, “they looked at each other in disbelief”, Pacoli said.

“Both of them were perplexed, and it’s hard to describe their reaction by words,” he added.

Dell was “very nervous and sharp in his demand” and told the three leaders not to “underestimate” his proposal, because they could lose America as a friend.

Pacoli said he accepted the proposal though he “never heard” of Jahjaga before.

The US spearheaded Kosovo’s drive for independence from Serbia three years ago.

American-educated Jahjaga, 36, joined Kosovo police as a translator in 2000, and had reached the rank of deputy police director before becoming president.

Dell said in a statement that his country ha worked with Jahjaga for many years.

“She had earned the admiration and respect of all those that worked with her, from US secretary of state Hillary Clinton to hundreds of US policemen and women that were proud to serve next to her during the past 11 years,” Dell said.

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