Kosovo police arrest opposition leader for Parliament unrest

Kosovo police arrest opposition leader for Parliament unrest

PRISTINA - The Associated Press
Kosovo police arrest opposition leader for Parliament unrest

Kosovar policemen detain opposition lawmaker Albin Kurti (C) at the Vetevendosje headquarters after several thousand of protesters gathered in downtown Pristina on November 28, 2015 demanding from the government to withdraw from EU-brokered agreements with Serbia, which are at the centre of a deep political crisis shaking Kosovo. AFP PHOTO/ARMEND NIMANI

Police entered the headquarters of Kosovo’s main opposition party on Nov. 28 and arrested dozens of people, including one of its leaders who was wanted for the violent actions he has used to disrupt the country’s Parliament.

Police said Albin Kurti and 86 others were arrested at the Self-Determination Movement Party’s headquarters after tens of thousands of opposition supporters held a peaceful protest against the government’s deals with Serbia and Montenegro.

The party’ premises were sealed off by police after the arrests. 

During the past three months, opposition lawmakers in Kosovo have disrupted Parliament work with tear gas, pepper spray, whistles and water bottles, demanding that the government renounce a deal with Serbia giving more powers to ethnic-Serb communities in Kosovo and another with Montenegro on border demarcation. Another opposition lawmaker had already been arrested for the disruptions and two others are still sought by police.

Organizers said the Nov. 28 rally, on neighboring Albania’s national Independence Day, also celebrated by Kosovo Albanian brethren, attracted some 35,000 participants at the Zahir Pajaziti Square in downtown Pristina.

“The government turned the festivities into a day of violence,” the three opposition parties said in a joint statement.

Despite a police arrest warrant for him, Kurti spoke at the rally and was later accompanied by supporters to the party headquarters which were immediately surrounded by police.

Some opposition supporters tried to push police away from the road, but they were forced back by police who used pepper spray against them. Then police forces were seen entering the building and bringing out several opposition supporters.

Police said that two policemen and two opposition supporters were injured during the scuffling when they entered the party headquarters and were confronted by people who were hitting them with hard objects, chairs and other items.

The opposition said around 100 people were under arrest and a “considerable number” were injured.

The opposition has said it will continue to disrupt Parliament work until the deals are renounced, while the government has accused the opposition of trying to come to power by force.

The opposition called on citizens to join them, adding that “Our actions cannot be stopped by any police state.”

The next Parliament session is set for Nov. 30.