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Police arrest 66 opposition activists and an MP for trying to enter the government building to block the sale of the power distribution company.
Police detained 66 activists from the opposition Self-determination movement after they attempted to enter by force the government building in order to prevent a deal selling off the power distribution company.
The clash between police and protesters led to the injury of 10 activists and nine police officers, according to police and hospital records on Wednesday.
Both parties accused each other of excessive force. Police said their response was based on the fact that the protest was not announced, as the law demands, 48 hours in advance.
Police said that around 150 persons gathered in the morning to protest against the ceremony in the government building marking the transfer of state-owned shares in the company to the Turkish consortium Calik Holding and Limak for € 26.3 million.
The situation escalated when a group of Self-determination MPs, led by their president, Albin Kurti, crossed the security fence. Police, aided by the protection team of the Prime Minister, Hashim Thaci, then blocked them from entering the government building.
By law, no MP can be prevented from entering state premises, including the government HQ.
The Interior Minister, Bajram Rexhepi, went out and ordered the Special Police to intervene and stop anyone entering the building, however.
“I issued the order to get the protesters out of the government courtyard, and the police should have been more rigorous in this regard," he said later.
"This is how it’s going to be in future, because no one, including the Self-determination MPs, can hamper the work of institutions,” Rexhepi said.
His move and words were condemned by the Self-Determination movement and by the opposition Democratic League of Kosovo, LDK who said it was a threat to democracy.
After being forced to leave the premises, Kurti said the police should serve the nation, not obey orders of politicians.
The vice-president of the LDK, Sabri Hamiti, described the statement of Minister Rexhepi as a threat to public order.
“This is the language of a police state. I don’t think that we are a police state, nor that we want to become one,” Hamiti said.
Regardless of events outside, the Minister of Economic Development, Besim Beqaj, and Limak Holding chairman, Nihat Ozdemir, signed the deal, transferring the shares to the Turkish consortium for the next 20 years.
Ozdemir pledged to invest €300 million in the distribution network, and retain the firm's 2,700 employees for three years.
In two high-profile war crimes trials currently ongoing in Pristina, a series of witnesses have retracted previous statements alleging abuse at Kosovo Liberation Army detention centres.