Thursday 18 October 2018

Kosovo MPs use tear gas to block border vote

Kosovo opposition politicians release tear gas in the Pristina parliament to bring the session to an abrupt halt. Photo: Reuters
Kosovo opposition politicians release tear gas in the Pristina parliament to bring the session to an abrupt halt. Photo: Reuters

Florent Bajrami

Two Kosovan MPs were injured when the opposition used tear gas several times to disrupt a parliamentary vote in the capital Pristina.

Lawmakers had to be evacuated from the Assembly building yesterday after the Self-Determination Movement party used tear gas in the hall where the vote on a border demarcation deal with Montenegro was due to start. The opposition used tear gas a second time when the session resumed.

Eight opposition MPs involved in setting off the tear gas were barred from taking part in the session when it restarts. Two people from the governing coalition were injured by the tear gas.

Opposition leader Albin Kurti said they were determined to stop the vote, which he considered "treason to the country". The session failed four consecutive times to hold the vote amid the chaos, but Speaker Kadri Veseli insisted it would still take place.

Police entered parliament and forced out a small group of opposition representatives who had refused to leave since the morning. Seven were taken to a police station for questioning.

Police also carried out detailed searches for every person entering the chamber.

The 120-seat parliament was expected to ratify the 2015 border deal, which was set as a precondition by the EU for Kosovo's citizens to freely travel within the visa-free Schengen zone. In order for it to be approved, two-thirds of MPs must support it.

The opposition party says the border deal will mean Kosovo loses 8,200 hectares of its territory.

Irish Independent

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