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Tear gas released twice in one day in Kosovo parliament by opposition politicians

Kosovo's parliament suspended its session twice on Friday as tear gas was released into the chamber. Opposition lawmakers were protesting the government's agreements with Serbia and Montenegro.

Kosovo's opposition politicians had demanded Friday's parliamentary session be canceled unless the government withdrew from European Union-brokered agreements with Serbia to give more powers to Serb-dominated areas in Kosovo, and with Montenegro on border demarcation.

Kosovo declared independence from Serbia in 2008. But Serbia did not recognize the declaration.

Friday's afternoon session was suspended for more than six hours after tear gas canisters were thrown. Proceedings resumed briefly until opposition lawmakers threw another canister in the midst of a bitter debate.

"We will continue to resist until these two agreements are canceled," Donika Kada Bujupi of the opposition Alliance for the Future of Kosovo (AFK) told reporters after letting off a teargas canister in the chamber in the afternoon.

"The opposition had no other way out than using unusual tools to stop this session," the AFK said in a statement.

It was not the first time the opposition had taken such steps. In two other sessions, the opposition blew whistles to prevent a debate. On another occasion, eggs were thrown at the prime minister.

Mediation

President Atifete Jahjaga failed to persuade the political parties to talk to each other about the dispute. Glauk Konjufca of the opposition Self-Determination Party said: "It is not possible to sit down together because they have shown their real face, that they sell the state interests and defend their properties. Debating with them is over."

Outside the parliament building, police fired tear gas at hundreds of protesters who were reported to have thrown petrol bombs.

The United States, which has supported Kosovo, has warned of consequences of the opposition's actions. "To those people who bring weapons into the Kosovo assembly," US Ambassador Greg Delawie said on Thursday, "I have a message: you are hurting Kosovo's economy, you are risking isolating Kosovo from the Euro-Atlantic community."

In June, Kosovo made an agreement with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for 185 million euros ($204 million). The UN cultural organization UNESCO has also recommended membership.

jm/bw (AP, Reuters)

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