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News 17 Nov 15

Kosovo Opposition Force MPs to Flee Parliament

Ruling party MPs were forced to adopt the 2016 budget while barricaded in an alternative hall, after opposition MPs again threw tear gas in the main chamber.

Ervin Qafmolla
BIRN
Pristina
Opposition MPs threw teargas in the corridors, spraying pepper at security personnel | Photo:BIRN.

Kosovo opposition MPs again caused chaos on Tuesday at a session of parliament, which was due to approve the 2016 budget.

Opposition MPs, led by the Vetevendosje (Self-determination) Movement, threw teargas in the chamber and in the corridors as well as spraying pepper at security personnel.

In an impromptu move, the members decided to change their venue and hold the session in another hall.

“Due to extraordinary developments, which endanger the health of MPs, we decided to take extraordinary measures,” assembly chairman Kadri Veseli told the media.

 

Ruling party MPs, diplomats, observers and journalists packed in to a smaller room to discuss the budget bill while outside the building protesters hurled stones and paint at riot police.

The three opposition parties, Vetwvendosje, the Alliance for the Future of Kosovo, AAK, and Nisma, have vowed to halt sessions of parliament until the government withdraws key agreements reached with Serbia in August.

The most contested agreement concerns the establishment of an Association of Serbian Municipalities with wide-ranging powers.

 

Opposition parties say the powers granted to the association will make it effectively independent, much like the Serb-dominated entity in Bosnia, Republika Srpska.

It was the second time in less than a month that ruling party MPs barricaded themselves in another hall to conduct parliamentary business. The opposition MPs at one point tried to ram through security to reach the alternative hall but were unsuccessful.

Prime Minister Isa Mustafa said that it was unacceptable for the majority in parliament, 90 MPs, to be evicted from the chamber by only 30.

“What happened today was a criminal act. Those who hurl [tear] gas must be held accountable to the law,” Mustafa told the assembly.

The 2016 budget bill was approved with the ruling coalition votes only.

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