Kosovo opposition uses tear gas to disrupt Parliament

PRISTINA, KOSOVO: Opposition lawmakers angry at Kosovo's recent deals with Serbia and Montenegro set off tear gas canisters Thursday in Parliament, forcing the suspension of the session.

Lawmakers left the chamber after witnesses said a tear gas canister was opened in the opposition seats, followed by one or two others. It was the second week in a row that tear gas had been used in Parliament in protests that began with the egging of Prime Minister Isa Mustafa last month.

The opposition, led by the Self-Determination party, said no more parliamentary sessions should be held and pledged to continue the protests.

The government harshly denounced the use of tear gas as "an irresponsible behavior not in line with any ethic, moral and practical democratic code." Parliament Speaker Kadri Veseli urged the opposition to use Parliament to express disagreements professionally and respect its rules and the law.

"Their behavior so far is violating such a possibility and suffocating democracy," he said at a news conference.

One of the EU-sponsored deals gives Kosovo's Serb-majority areas greater powers, while the other covers border demarcation with Montenegro. The opposition wants the government to withdraw from the deals, saying they endanger Kosovo's sovereignty and territorial integrity.

"Only backtracking from these deals will bring institutional and social normalcy in Kosovo," the opposition statement said in a statement.

The governing coalition says the opposition wants to come to power through unconstitutional means.

Outside the building, about 100 opposition supporters rallied calmly.

Parliament decided Wednesday that all lawmakers should be checked as they entered the chamber. Police said they would investigate how the tear gas canisters still made it in.

Fifteen policemen and a number of protesters were injured in clashes Monday after Self-Determination Party leader Albin Kurti was detained for questioning.