Fistfights broke out at the Kosovo parliament and water was thrown on the prime minister after a heated three-day public debate over an audio recording between a ruling party member and an official from the Serb-majority north. Kosovo’s opposition has long accused nationalist Prime Minister Albin Kurti’s handling of tensions in the north that has strained relations with longtime Western allies the United States and the European Union.
Unrest in the north has intensified more recently since ethnic Albanian mayors took office in northern Kosovo after April elections that the Serbs boycotted demanding implementation of a decade-old deal for more autonomy. Ethnic Albanians make up 90% of Kosovo’s population, while Serbs account for about 5%. On Thursday, video from inside the parliament showed an opposition party MP throwing water at Kurti and his deputy. The brawl then spread when other opposition and governing coalition lawmakers approached the podium where ministers are seated.
A fight in the Kosovo Parliament today.
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Kurti was pushed away from his MPs and bodyguards as lawmakers from both sides attacked each other until police intervened. The debate followed online media Nacionale this week publishing an audio conversation between the chairwoman of Kurti’s party, Mimoza Kusari-Lila, and then Serb lawmaker, Slavko Simic. The audio was recorded in June last year.
Kusari could be heard saying that she previously spoke on the phone with an official of Serb ethnicity, Milan Radojcic, who is sanctioned by the U.S. government over organised crime and corruptive activities.
Radojcic is also a wanted person by Kosovo authorities. “This what happened at Kosovo parliament is unacceptable and use of violence in punishable,” said Kosovo’s speaker of the parliament Glauk Konjufca, and ordered the delay of the session for two hours.
On Wednesday, Kurti said he has agreed with the EU to scale down the police presence in the north and take other measures to lower tensions.
The NATO said 93 of its peacekeeping soldiers were injured in clashes with Serb protesters, some of them severely, on May 29. Doctors in the north said 52 Serbs were also injured.
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