Kosovo parliament hit by fresh tear-gas protest

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Tear gas released in Kosovo's parliament in Pristina. 14 Dec 2015Image source, AFP
Image caption,
MPs were forced to move to a side room to vote on next year's budget

Protesting opposition MPs in Kosovo have released tear gas in parliament for the sixth time in just over two months, disrupting a vote on the government's 2016 budget.

Outside, opposition supporters threw stones and smashed windows before they were dispersed by riot police.

Protesters have been trying to disrupt parliament over an EU-brokered deal to improve relations with Serbia.

Kosovo unilaterally declared its independence from Serbia in 2008.

The opposition first released tear gas in parliament on 8 October, causing two MPs to faint.

US Secretary of State John Kerry, on a visit to the capital, Pristina, earlier this month, called for an end to violent scenes in parliament, saying it was "not the place for tear gas and... not the place for intimidation".

However, opposition MPs released gas canisters again in the parliamentary chamber on Monday, forcing a suspension of proceedings.

Image source, AFP
Image caption,
Plainclothes police officers donned masks as the tear gas was released

A large group of plainclothes police officers donned gas masks as the chamber was cleared.

One of the MPs who released the gas, Glauk Konjufca, said it was "a collective action by the opposition".

"Others have done this too, and we will continue to do this in the future. Our breaching of the law is nothing compared to the damage that is being done by these agreements."

The opposition is particularly opposed to a deal to give more autonomy to Kosovo's ethnic Serb minority, which they say could increase Serbia's influence.

The vote on next year's €1.67bn (£1.1bn) budget resumed in a side room, with only MPs from the governing coalition present and was approved, Reuters news agency reported.

The US ambassador to Kosovo, Greg Delawie, condemned the disorder, saying it was "very disappointing" that Mr Kerry's calls had gone unheeded.

Tear gas timeline

Image source, Reuters