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Wednesday 13 November 2019

Kosovo politicians use tear gas in parliament

Opposition politicians in Kosovo use tear gas and whistles in parliament in the capital Pristina (AP)
Opposition politicians in Kosovo use tear gas and whistles in parliament in the capital Pristina (AP)

Opposition politicians in Kosovo have disrupted parliament, using tear gas and whistles to protest over the government's recent EU-sponsored deal with Serbia giving the country's Serb-majority areas greater powers.

The opposition wants the government to backtrack from the deal, saying it endangers Kosovo's territorial integrity. The governing coalition says the opposition wants to come to power through unconstitutional means.

A statement from the government deplored "the violence of a group of the opposition ... from which some politicians were injured and asked for medical assistance". There were no reports of serious injuries.

Kosovo's president Atifete Jahjaga denounced the "nasty actions of the opposition's politicians".

"Conceptual and political disagreements should be debated with the power of argument and parliamentary culture," she said in a statement.

Parliament speaker Kadri Veseli continued the session, inviting the opposition to take part in the debate on the deals with Serbia to "together express our reservations, or displeasure, or support for the Brussels agreement".

"What is happening is not patriotism and it is not helping Kosovo," he said.

Opposition politician Glauk Konjufca, of the Vetevendosje (Self-Determination) Party, said the protests at the weekly sessions on Thursdays would continue. This was the third straight disturbance.

"(We are) blocking parliamentary life in Kosovo to reject what the government signed and we ask the government to withdraw its signature from the recent agreements with Serbia, especially this about the establishment of the Serbian association of municipalities," he said.

The US embassy said some of its staff members in Pristina were among those injured in the disturbance, which it said made "a mockery of one of Kosovo's most important democratic institutions".

Prime minister Isa Mustafa escaped untouched when eggs were thrown on a street earlier this week. He was the target of more eggs hurled by opposition politicians last month when he was escorted out of parliament, assisted by bodyguards protecting him with an umbrella.

Serbia rejects Kosovo's 2008 secession, already recognised by more than 100 countries.

Mr Mustafa's Democratic Party and his deputy and foreign minister Hashim Thaci's Democratic League of Kosovo hold 68 of the 120 parliamentary seats.

PA Media

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