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News 26 Aug 14

Ethnic Albanian MPs Brawl in Macedonian Parliament

An ethnic Albanian opposition party announced it was boycotting parliament after a fist fight broke out in the chamber between one of its members and another from a rival party.

Sinisa Jakov Marusic
BIRN
Skopje

Macedonian parliament | Archive Photo

The Democratic Party of Albanians, DPA, has threatened to leave Macedonia's parliament in protest after one of its MPs, Orhan Ibrahimi, exchanged punches with Rexhail Ismaili, an MP from the junior ruling party, the Democratic Union for Integration, DUI.

Several other legislators then joined in the brawl.

Both parties said the other was to blame for the incident, but both refused to go into details about the fight. Unofficially, the fight was preceded with verbal insults from both sides.

“We demand criminal investigation into the DUI legislators,” the DPA MP, Imer Aliu, said at a press conference, insisting that DUI legislator started the fight.

DUI legislator Artan Grubi told a different story, holding the DPA legislator responsible. He said that his colleague Ismaili had required medical help after the brawl as his eye had been hurt.

The unseemly battle erupted at a session of the parliamentary commission that was reviewing the government's proposed budget rebalance. In his address, Ibrahimi accused his rivals from the DUI of not taking care of their Albanian constituents.

To back up his claim, he said the ethnic Albanian village of Lipkovo still has no drinking water, even though artificial lake next to it supplies water to the nearby town of Kumanovo.

The remark apparently sparked an exchange of insults between the two legislators after which both MPs could be seen on video footage published by 24 Vesti exchanging punches. Other legislators tried to separate the two, or took sides, making matters worse.

The DPA, which has seven of the 123 seats in parliament, is practically the only opposition party left in the chamber. The main opposition bloc, led by the Social Democrats, the SDSM, refused to take up its seats after accusing the ruling coalition of using fraud to win the elections in April.

Confrontations between MPs using fists are not usual in the Macedonian parliament.

The most serious incident happened in December 24, 2012 when government parties passed a budget for 2013 in the space of a few minutes, after opposition MPs were forcibly expelled from the chamber by police.

This caused a lengthy political crisis that was eventually resolved with a agreement involving a joint report on the event.

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