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Kosovo rising fast from ashes

In one town, KLA quickly organizes city services, even before delivery

(Page 2 of 2)

"After three months of terror, people still feel frustrated and unsafe. They have seen so much dark in this city," says Ardian Gjini, the deputy mayor. "Seeing there are phones, streetlights, some local news, bread - they are beginning to feel that they can live here again."

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BUT the government has not stopped there. Local milk production is being reorganized as is waste collection, although these efforts are hampered by fuel shortages. Having already surveyed local factories, the government is moving to restart production in those spared from Serbian pillaging.

There are already plans for privatizing some state-owned firms, including the Emin Durako textile plant, the biggest employer until its 7,000 ethnic Albanian workers were fired in 1990.

And the manager of Electromotori, which makes electric motors, is now in Slovenia talking with the firm that owns part of the plant about restarting production.

Mr. Gjini says that with international aid, he needs only six months to rebuild Djakovica's ravaged Ottoman-era old town, a warren of homes, tiny shops, and a 500-year-old mosque that were allegedly torched and dynamited by the Serbs after NATO bombing began March 24.

The government's dynamism appears to be rooted in its composition. Moving on the heels of retreating Serbian forces, the KLA agreed the government should comprise intellectuals and technicians who belonged to Djakovica's prewar round table of ethnic Albanian political parties.

Kumanova, a former school administrator, is a member of the Democratic League of Kosovo led by Ibrahim Rugova, the moderate scorned by KLA leaders for holding talks with Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic as his forces killed and looted.

"All the people [in the provisional government] were very active in the parallel government," says Gjini, referring to the underground schools, clinics, and a human rights network run by Mr. Rugova's party.

An electrical engineer, Gjini belongs to the small Albanian National Party.

He concedes that the provisional government's responsibilities are far more weighty than those its members had previously had. Furthermore, few have had any practical experience given that all ethnic Albanian officials were ousted when Serbia imposed direct rule.

Nor has the KLA disappeared. To the contrary, its fighters can be seen everywhere in the devastated town: Many belong to a rudimentary police force that numerous residents disparage.

"This guy is only 14," growls Niazi Berisha, as a shiny-faced rebel orders sidewalk hawkers to move off the main street. "We need a real police force, but not like this."

But KLA rebels are being disarmed by Italian peacekeepers' checkpoints on the main road, and many rebels say they are anxious to return to civilian life.

Gjini says the KLA works closely with the provisional government, securing against looters in municipal buildings, factories and warehouses filled with food, clothes, and other pillaged goods the Serbs were apparently unable to cart off.