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Troops Deployed in Kosovo; Provincial Party Leaders Resign

February 27, 1989

PRISTINA, Yugoslavia (AP) _ Troops and tanks moved into Kosovo province Monday, the eighth day of a strike by ethnic Albanian miners, and provincial Communist Party leaders began resigning as demanded by the strikers.

At another mine, workers from the province’s Slavic minority began a strike in support of the party officials.

Air force jets flew over the provincial capital Pristina several times in a show of might by the federal government.

Tanks were parked in front of the army barracks. Military vehicles loaded with soldiers headed toward Titova Mitrovica, where 1,300 ethnic Albanian miners were occupying the Trepca lead and zinc mine, and army reservists were seen marching near the mine.

Travelers reported police roadblocks on some roads leading to Kosovo, particularly from the neighboring republic of Macedonia, and a special security unit of 400 officers arrived in Kosovo over the weekend.

Tanjug, the official Yugoslav news agency, said: ″The presidency of Yugoslavia today ordered that special measures be introduced in Kosovo for protecting the constitutional order, personal safety and security of all persons and personal and state-owned property.″

It said the emergency measures were effective immediately in Kosovo, an autonomous province of the Serbian republic, but did not describe them.

Rahman Morina, the provincial party chief, resigned Monday and Belgrade radio quoted him as saying, in a comment directed at the Trepca miners: ″I am deeply shaken that you consider me responsible for your lives and health. It is only for this reason that I am submitting the resignation.″

A statement from Yugoslavia’s collective presidency urged ″everyone to contribute to bringing the miners out of the pits as quickly as possible.″

At another lead and zinc mine, 800 members of Kosovo’s Slavic minority occupied their pits and said they would continue the strike if Morina and two other Kosovo leaders resigned as demanded by the Albanian miners at Trepca.

Morina, Husamedin Azemi and Ali Sukrija are ethnic Albanians, but are seen as supporters of the Communist Party in Serbia, which seeks greater control over the province.

Kosovo is adjacent to Albania and its population of 1.8 million is 90 percent ethnic Albanian. Minority Savs often complains of discrimination in the province and martial law was imposed briefly in 1981 after bloody riots between ethnic Albanians and security forces.

Azemi, party chief of Pristina, also resigned Monday, citing ″moral considerations and ... blackmail.″ Serb and Montenegrin members of the Pristina party leadership threatened to quit if Azemi left his post.

Sukrija, a representative of Kosovo in the national party leadership, can submit his resignation only to the federal leadership in Belgrade.

The country’s collective presidency said it ordered emergency measures after ″further deterioration of the political-security situation and ... other activities which directly imperiled the constitutionally determined social system.″

Miners at Trepca had said they were ending contact with the outside, except for medical assistance, until the resignations of the three leaders were confirmed.

On Saturday, the nine-member federal presidency ordered tighter internal security in Kosovo. More soldiers and police than usual were on Pristina’s streets Monday, many guarding official buildings and army installations.

The national Communist Party leadership appealed to the Trepca miners to end the strike and cooperate in ″urgent, open, democratic consideration″ of their demands.

Federal and Serbian leaders were in Pristina over the weekend trying to resolve the crisis.

Many stores, schools and universities in the province closed in sympathy strikes, but several ethnic Albanian merchants were seen opening their stores Monday afternoon.

In Slovenia, the most developed and liberal Yugoslav republic, the legislature called for an immediate session of the national parliament to consider the Kosovo situation.

Slovenia and Croatia oppose attempts by Slobodan Milosevic, the ambitious leader of Serbia’s Communist Party, to gain more control over Kosovo and Vojvodina, another autonomous province in the republic.

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