Tear-gas attack pauses presidential election in Kosovo parliament

Kosovo's parliament went into recess Friday as a tear-gas attack by the opposition interrupted the debate ahead of a presidential election.

The attack was launched two hours into the debate, even after several opposition lawmakers were expelled from the parliament on suspicion of carrying tear gas canisters. The session is expected to continue later.

The opposition, which since October has routinely disrupted the work of parliament with violence, including tear-gas attacks, vowed to oppose the election, which former longtime premier and now foreign minister Hashim Thaci is expected to win.

Apparently worrying that a confrontation between rival groups may spark more violence, Thaci called on his supporters to celebrate his expected election victory at their homes.

Thaci leads the Democratic Party, the junior partner of Prime Minister Isa Mustafa's Democratic League.

The opposition has accused him of corruption.

Kosovo elects its head of state indirectly in parliament. If the parliament fails to elect a president by March 7 after three attempts, it will have to be dissolved, paving the way for early elections. The next regularly scheduled elections are due in 2018.

The opposition is pushing for a snap poll in an effort to topple the Mustafa-Thaci coalition and block the implementation of an agreement with Serbia on expanded autonomy for Serb-majority municipalities in mostly ethnic Albanian Kosovo.

The deal was brokered by the European Union as part of normalization talks between Serbia and Kosovo, Belgrade's breakaway former province which declared independence in 2008.

Last update: Fri, 26/02/2016 - 16:12

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