'Opposition has enough gas:’ Anti-Serbia MPs teargasses Kosovo parliament…again

Teargas is seen released in Kosovo parliament in Pristina October 15, 2015. © Hazir Reka
Kosovo’s parliament again plunged into chaos on Thursday when opposition MPs set off tear gas in the chamber, disrupting a meeting about an EU-brokered deal with Serbia. In a similar incident in the Kosovo parliament last week, two MPs were hospitalized.

Members of Parliament were forced to leave the legislature when Donika Kada Bujupi, from the Alliance for the Future of Kosovo (AAK), triggered teargas havoc just before the speaker tried to open a debate about Pristina's ties with Belgrade. Minutes before tear gas filled the chambers, protesting MPs flocked to the podium to prevent any discussions.

"I know that what you see today is not the best sight. I have activated the tear gas, because we are left [with] no choice. The government is responsible for finding solutions," Bujupi, said, as quoted by the Serbian press.

The latest incident is the newest manifestation of the opposition's push to disturb a deal that would grant ethnic Serb areas of Kosovo greater local autonomy with possible aid coming from Serbia. Such a deal, opponents believe, is a threat to the independence of Kosovo, which was declared separate from Serbia in 2008.

Authorities remain puzzled as to how the politician managed to sneak in the gas canister. Tighter security was introduced following a similar incident last week. Rumors that police provided the MP with the canister have been refuted by authorities.

"It is not true that the Kosovo police supplied tear gas to anyone or someone. It is an attempt to discredit the Kosovo police," police spokesman, Baki Kelani, told the public, adding that police have prepared security measures in case the situation deteriorates further.

READ MORE: Police in Kosovo tear gas far-right protesters demanding release of opposition leader

The opposition says that it will protest until the EU-brokered deal is amended. The ethnic Albanian-dominated opposition also rejects a border agreement with neighboring Montenegro signed in August, as Kosovo is set to lose some of its territory.

"Only the withdrawal from these agreements will bring back social and institutional normality in Kosovo," the parties of the opposition bloc said in a joint declaration.
As the parliamentarians fled the building into safety of fresh air, some 100 protesters cheered the opposition's MPs for disturbing the parliament's president session.

"The opposition has enough gas to block any session," Glauk Konjufca of the Self-Determination party, which leads the opposition bloc, told reporters outside parliament.

The government condemned the teargas incidents, calling them "illegal and anarchic acts" that are "inconsistent with any code of ethics, morals and democratic practice".

The public prosecutor's office announced that it started a probe into the tear gas incident last week, when Albin Kurti, the founder of the opposition's Self-Determination party threw tear gas.

In addition, the US embassy in Kosovo voiced their concern over last week's incident, claiming that some of its staff who were present in the chamber during the teargas fiasco had to seek medical attention.

Parliament is scheduled to hold more debates on the issue next week, with Assembly President, Kadri Veseli, calling on the opposition to participate in the dialogue.

"We will use all the power to provide a dignified and normal work in the Assembly. We invite the opposition to dialogue, understanding and respect for the law as we are determined to take all necessary measures for normal operation in the parliament," Veseli told reporters.

Yet the opposition refuses to participate in the dialogue unless the EU-brokered deals are called off.

"We will not stop until the government starts to take care of the interests of Kosovo. We are unanimous in the decision not allow the creation of Serbian municipalities. The ruling coalition must renounce Brussels Treaty if it wants the institutions continue to work," said Glauk Konjufca said, according to Radio Television of Serbia.