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Kosovo political crisis deepens

November 18, 2015

Kosovo police and opposition supporters have traded blows over a deal with the country's ethnic Serb minority. Ethnic Albanian nationalists disrupted parliament this week with tear gas, pepper spray and thrown objects.

Kosovo Gewalt bei Oppositionsdemo in Prishtina
Image: picture-alliance/epa/V. Xhemaj

Riot police and protesters clashed for a second day Wednesday with officers firing tear gas trying to disperse a crowd of about 150 people who threw rocks and Molotov cocktails at police in the capital Pristina.

Wednesday's protests followed news of the arrest of opposition lawmaker Donika Kadaj-Bujupi on charges of releasing tear gas inside parliament.

Police also said they were looking for three more lawmakers including Albin Kurti, founder of the opposition Self-Determination party, who is wanted for releasing tear gas and firing pepper spray in a bid to disrupt legislative sessions.

The governing coalition has been meeting in smaller rooms outside the main parliamentary chambers and has even passed the 2016 budget with the opposition boycotting sessions as the country's political crisis deepens.

Ethnic roots to political conflict

Kosovo Parlament Tränengas
Kosovo's opposition lawmakers have continually thrown tear gas inside parliament in Pristina to disrupt sessions.Image: picture-alliance/dpa/V. Xhemaj

Hard-line ethnic Albanian nationalists in the opposition are livid at an agreement that grants ethnic Serb areas in Kosovo greater local powers and the possibility of some financing from Belgrade

Earlier in the day a bomb squad detonated a hand grenade thrown near Kosovo's Constitutional Court, which has been asked to rule on a European Union-brokered accord with neighboring Serbia.

Kosovo broke away from Serbia in 1999 after its ethnic Albanian majority fought a war of secession backed by NATO airstrikes. It formally declared independence in 2008.

But its sovereignty is not recognized by several European countries including Greece, Russia, Serbia and Spain. Yet Pristina has been trying to implement a three-way deal between Belgrade, Pristina and the small Balkan state's ethnic Serbian minority.

Kosovo's nationalist opposition has said no more parliament sessions would be allowed unless the deals are renounced. The government accuses them of trying to come to power by force.

jar/jil (Reuters, dpa, AP)