Kosovo opposition fires tear gas, pepper spray in parliament

Kosovo opposition fires tear gas, pepper spray in parliament

PRISTINA – Agence France-Presse
Kosovo opposition fires tear gas, pepper spray in parliament

AP photo

Kosovo’s opposition fired tear gas and pepper spray in parliament on Nov. 17 while protesters outside threw stones and paint, in the latest eruption of a long-running protest against agreements made with Serbia.

Opposition MPs have been paralyzing parliamentary sessions for weeks in a bid to thwart European Union-brokered dialogue and agreements with Serbia, the country from which Kosovo broke away and declared independence in 2008.

Despite a heavy police presence in and around the parliament, tear gas was released on Nov. 17 for the fourth time in the chamber, while prominent opposition MP Albin Kurti fired pepper spray, said an AFP reporter at the scene.  

Kurti, from the Self-Determination party and a leading figure in the ongoing protests, sprayed in the direction of ministers but was blocked by two rows of police.

The disruption forced MPs from the governing coalition to reconvene in another room to finish the session on next year’s budget but without the presence of opposition deputies.

“This is a criminal act of individuals against whom measures should be taken. They should be held accountable before the law,” Prime Minister Isa Mustafa told the reconvened MPs.

Outside parliament, meanwhile, clashes continued between around 100 protesters and anti-riot police, who fired tear gas in retaliation to hurled bottles, stones and paint.

The protesters are especially opposed to plans to set up an association of Serb-run municipalities giving greater autonomy to Kosovo’s Serb minority, saying the initiative will deepen the ethnic divide and increase Serbia’s influence in Kosovo.

The agreement was reached during EU-brokered dialogue with Serbia, which aims to improve relations between the two sides that were at war in 1998-1999.