Kosovar opposition MPs throw tear gas in parliament

Opposition MPs in Kosovar parliament throw tear gas to protest government deals with Montenegro and Serbia

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

Tear gas fill the air of a hallway after three opposition MPs released them when they were refused entry into the assembly room by security personnel, in Pristina

Opposition lawmakers released tear gas Monday in Kosovo's parliament as they once again tried to pressure the government into renouncing deals with Serbia and Montenegro.

Clouds of smoke from two tear gas canisters forced lawmakers out of the debating chamber. Local media reported the parliamentary session could resume in a different building later Monday, likely excluding the opposition.

Glauk Konjufca of the Self-Determination Movement told reporters the opposition would continue different forms of pressure on the government "to make it understand that the Aug. 25 deals ... cannot pass in Kosovo and that the opposition is determined to use all the methods so these two deals damaging Kosovo's statehood are not applied."

One of the deals gives more powers to ethnic Serbs in Kosovo while the other demarcates the border with Montenegro.

Over the past three months, the opposition has blocked Kosovo's parliament with tear gas, pepper spray, whistles and water bottles to protest the deals and their supporters have held violent protests in Pristina.

If the government refuses to halt the deals, the opposition wants a referendum on the issues or a new election. The government, the president and the international community have called for dialogue.

The deal on Serb minority rights is suspended until Kosovo's constitutional court rules on its legality. The government, which accuses the opposition of trying to seize power by force, has said it will ask international experts to decide on the border demarcation with Montenegro.

Kosovo in 2008 declared independence from Serbia, an act that Serbia still rejects. The two countries have been holding European Union-mediated talks to overcome their differences.