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Who's who, Elections

Bajram Rexhepi

Prime Minister of Kosovo

(The Centre for Reconstruction and Development; various news sources)

Bajram Rexhepi became Kosovo's first prime minister on 4 March 2002, following general elections in the province on 17 November 2001. A senior member of the Democratic Party of Kosovo (PDK), which finished second in the poll, Rexhepi's nomination for the post was the result of a power-sharing agreement between the province's three main Albanian parties.

Rexhepi was born on 3 June 1954 in the town of Mitrovica. A surgeon, Rexhepi graduated from the Pristina University Faculty of Medicine in 1979, and completed post-university studies in Zagreb in 1985. He worked as a general surgeon and endoscopic specialist at the regional hospital in Mitrovica until 1990. Subsequently, he became the leader of the shadow government in the city and a member of the Kosovo Parliament.

During the 1999 conflict with Serbia, Rexhepi joined the Kosovo Liberation Army and spent three months in the mountains serving as a field doctor in the operating zone of Shala.

After the war, Rexhepi served as president of the Mitrovica municipal council and mayor of the divided town's southern section, as well as head of the PDK's branch organisation in the town. In the 17 November 2001 general election, the PDK won 25.7 per cent of the vote, coming in second after Ibrahim Rugova's Democratic League of Kosovo.

On 4 March 2002, after three months of negotiations, the Kosovo Assembly elected Rexhepi as the first prime minister of Kosovo with Ibrahim Rugova as president; both are considered moderate politicians. Following his election, the prime minister said his immediate goal would be "to overcome the delay and form the government".

During a visit to Washington in May 2002, Rexhepi voiced confidence that Kosovo's newly created institutions were in a position to "fulfil all aspects of self-governance". Speaking before a group of US officials, NGOs and business executives at the United States Institute of Peace, Rexhepi outlined three priorities for his government: improving the economy and living standards, enhancing ethnic tolerance and reconciliation, and resolving the unclear status of Kosovo.

Rexhepi lives in northern Mitrovica with his wife and daughter.