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UN's Kosovo Rules of Engagement Questioned as Chain of Command is Retraced, Rossin to NY

Byline: Matthew Russell Lee of Inner City Press at the UN: News Analysis

UNITED NATIONS, March 18 -- In the aftermath of the UN Mission in Kosovo sustaining at least one death while battling ethnic Serbs, questions are multiplying about who gave the order to retake the contested courthouse in northern Mitrovica, and what the UN's rules of engagement were. At Tuesday's noon briefing at UN headquarters, Inner City Press asked "who in UNMIK said, let's retake the courthouse?"

            Spokesperson Michele Montas said, "we can try to retrace the chain of command.  But, the fact that UN police left and KFOR stayed is part of the standard procedures we have on our agreements for escalating violent circumstances, where police alone cannot maintain law and order. And UNMIK and KFOR will consult on when to end the temporary departure of UN police from north Mitrovica."

            While still waiting for this retracing of the chain of command -- sources tell Inner City Press that some high in UN Headquarters are questioning UNMIK's judgment -- the follow-up noted both Ihor Kynal, the "Ukrainian UNMIK police officer who is dead and that's terrible" as well as a "Serb who was shot in the head and is in critical care.  Is it known who shot?  Is that within UNMIK?  Is that part of the UNMIK action or KFOR action?"

            Spokesperson Michele Montas said, "I cannot confirm this at this point." And 12 hours later, whose bullet it was remained unconfirmed. The shot "Serb demonstrator" has been identified by the local press as a former Kosovo police officer with three children.


   In terms of the "chain of command," deputy SRSG Larry Rossin has said "I authorized the operation that took place early Monday morning." And he has pointed the finger, or the chain, right back to New York, saying "We have instructions from our Secretary-General that we are to maintain the exclusive executive authority of the SRSG throughout Kosovo." Watch this site.

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Click here for a Reuters AlertNet piece by this correspondent about Uganda's Lord's Resistance Army. Click here for an earlier Reuters AlertNet piece about the Somali National Reconciliation Congress, and the UN's $200,000 contribution from an undefined trust fund.  Video Analysis here

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