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news 18 Nov 15

Protest Violence Erupts After Kosovo MP’s Arrest

Protesters clashed with police on the streets of the Kosovo capital and threw stones at government buildings after an opposition MP was arrested for setting off tear gas in parliament.

Ervin Qafmolla

Protesters threw stones at government offices and police in Pristina on Wednesday during a demonstration sparked by the arrest of opposition MP Donika Kadaj Bujupi, who is accused of setting off tear gas in parliament.

Riot police responded by firing tear gas after the stone-throwing protesters broke windows and damaged the façade of the government building.

One policeman was injured, according to some reports. Several protesters were arrested after police forced the crowd out of the square in front of the government headquarters.

Police armoured vehicles were deployed as the confrontation with protesters shifted into other streets in the city centre.

Kadaj-Bujupi, an MP from the opposition Alliance for the Future of Kosovo, AAK, was arrested on Wednesday.

Police also searched the homes of Albin Kurti and Albulena Krasniqi, both MPs from the opposition Vetevendosje [Self-determination] movement.

Kurti appeared in the crowd during the violent protest on Wednesday despite a warrant for his arrest.

Police also issued an arrest warrant for another Vetevendosje MP, Faton Topalli, related to the violent scenes in parliament.

The three opposition parties, Vetevendosje, the AAK, and the Initiative for Kosovo, Nisma, called the arrest of Kadaj-Bujupi politically motivated.

“The police are responding to the orders of [Prime Minister] Isa Mustafa and [Foreign Minister] Hashim Thaci who are ready to transform Kosovo into a police state so as not to give up power and the agreements they have made with Serbia,” a joint declaration said.

The three opposition parties have blocked the work of parliament since early October, demanding that the Kosovo government scrap its recent agreement with Serbia, which among other things opens a way for the establishment of an Association of Serbian Municipalities with wide-ranging powers.

On October 13, Vetevendosje activists attacked a police station in Pristina after their vice-president, Kurti, was arrested for setting off tear gas in parliament. Kurti was released after three hours.

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