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Kosovar Opposition Disrupts Presidential Inauguration

Groups representing the Serbian minority oppose the inauguration of Hashim Thaci, a former commander in the Kosovo Liberation Army

Kosovo's newly elected President Hashim Thaci, left, receives the Kosovo constitution from outgoing President Atifete Jahjaga,during the Presidential inauguration ceremony in Pristina
1 year ago

PRISTINA, Kosovo – Opposition supporters in Kosovo deployed tear gas Friday to try to disrupt the inauguration ceremony for the country’s new president, Hashim Thaci.

Canisters were launched before the ceremony at Pristina’s main Skenderbeg Square, but later it continued normally.

Newly elected Kosovo president Hashim Thaci, center,flanked by outgoing President Atifete Jahjaga review the guard of honor during the Presidential  inauguration ceremony in capital Pristina on Friday, Apr. 8, 2016. Thaci, 47, who replaces Atifete Jahjaga, was elected in Parliament on Feb. 26 in the absence of nearly all opposition lawmakers who earlier tried to disrupt the voting with tear gas. (AP Photo/Visar Kryeziu)

Newly elected Kosovo president Hashim Thaci, center, flanked by outgoing President Atifete Jahjaga review the guard of honor during the Presidential inauguration ceremony in capital Pristina on Friday, Apr. 8, 2016. Photo: AP/Visar Kryeziu.

The opposition has been disrupting parliamentary sessions in Kosovo since September to protest a deal with Serbia that gives more powers to ethnic Serbs in Kosovo and a separate border demarcation pact with Montenegro.

Tear gas was thrown just before the main guests were to arrive, although some diplomats were already there.

Police detained around half a dozen opposition supporters while others were pushed away.

Police said one officer was injured by tear gas, 12 opposition supporters were arrested for “trying to hurl tear gas” and four unused canisters were found with them.

The main opposition Self-Determination Movement Party took responsibility for throwing the tear gas, broadcasting a short movie of the action on its Facebook site.

“Hashim Thaci is not and will never be the president of the Republic of Kosovo,” they said. “We shall not recognize and accept him as the president of our Republic. We shall continuously and without compromise oppose him. As we did today!”

Thaci, 47, assumed his post Thursday in a swearing-in ceremony at the Parliament.

He was once a top commander of the rebel fighters of the Kosovo Liberation Army and is still wanted in Serbia, but he called for reconciliation with Belgrade.

“We shall build the good neighborliness. There is no alternative for dialogue. Kosovo and Serbia should pass from the stage of normalizing their ties to the process of reconciliation between the two countries and the two peoples. I am convinced reconciliation will occur,” he said at his inauguration speech.

Gresa Kraja

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