Hashim Thaci.jpg

Kosovo's parliament on Friday elected Hashim Thaci as the country's new president, in a session interrupted by opposition tear gas attacks and as anti-government protests in the streets turned violent.

Thaci prevailed after securing 71 ballots in the third-round of voting, in which 60 votes were needed to win. The two previous rounds on Friday failed to garner the necessary majority. 

The opposition walked out before the first vote. Security also expelled seven lawmakers for releasing tear gas, forcing the parliament to break off twice.

The opposition, which has fired tear gas in parliament several times since October, accuses Thaci of corruption and promises to continue protesting and demanding snap polls, ahead of their regular date in 2018.

As the voting took place, a crowd of protesters outside began hurling rocks and firebombs at police, who responded with tear gas and water cannon, local media reported. At least 12 people were injured, 11 of them police officers.

Apparently concerned that a confrontation between rival groups may spark more violence, Thaci called on his supporters to celebrate his election victory at their homes, but a crowd nevertheless gathered in the capital Pristina.

Thaci was prime minister from 2008 to 2014 and currently serves as foreign minister and leads the Democratic Party, the junior partner of Prime Minister Isa Mustafa's Democratic League.

Led by the nationalist Vetevendosje movement, the opposition wants to 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.

Nine years earlier, in 1999, NATO intervened against Serbia to force the withdrawal of its armed forces from Kosovo and end a lopsided war against Albanian rebels and a brutal crackdown on the Albanian population.

The head of the EU office in Pristina, Samuel Zbogar, warned Friday that political stability is crucial the success of the agreement, which foresees closer ties with the European Union.

"Kosovo reached a stage where it must prove that it can deal with these issues," Zbogar said. "The government and opposition must find a way to ... engage in a political dialogue."

US ambassador to Pristina, Greg Delawie, said the opposition was "interrupting a democratic process."

Related stories

Latest news

Deloitte: Growing optimism among CFOs

Chief financial officers (CFOs) in Croatia are more optimistic about growth and financial prospects in 2017 than they were last year, with most of them expecting increases in their company's revenue, a survey shows.

Russian agents main suspects for attempted coup in Montenegro

Russian citizens Eduard Shumakov and Vladimir Popoc, suspected of organising terrorist activities in Montenegro and forming a criminal organisation, are agents of Russia's Main Intelligence Agency (GRU), British, U.S. and other intelligence agencies confirmed, the Podgorica-based media reported on Sunday.

Six injured, 96 detained in Berlin fan clashes

Six people were treated in hospital and 96 detained in clashes in Berlin between fans of Hertha Berlin and Eintracht Frankfurt, police said Sunday.

Croatian government condemns extremism

The Croatian government on Sunday condemned all forms of extremism and acts of provocative nature aimed against the Serb minority in Vukovar as well as the rally organised by the Autochthonous Croatian Party of Rights (A-HSP) in Zagreb on Friday.

Approx. 7,500 migrants prevented from illegally entering Serbia in past 8 months

In the past several months, the authorities have prevented the illegal entry of approximately 7,500 migrants on Serbian soil. Serbian Interior Minister Nebojsa Stefanovic said Sunday.

Merkel's conservatives and Schulz's centre-left draw even in survey

Voter support for the German centre-left Social Democrats (SPD) is on par with Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservatives, a survey published Sunday showed.

Police arrest A-HSP party chief at rally in Zagreb

Police arrested Autochthonous Croatian Party of Rights (A-HSP) chief Drazen Keleminac for disturbing the peace at a public rally organised by the A-HSP in Zagreb on Sunday.

Kidnapped German archaeologists freed in Nigeria

Two German archaeologists who were kidnapped in northern Nigeria have been released, police said Sunday.

Turkey has built 290 kilometres of wall on border with Syria

Turkey has erected 290 kilometres of a planned 511-kilometre wall along its border with Syria, local media reported Sunday, citing the head of the building authority in charge of the project.

Syrian forces close in on city held by Turkish-backed rebels

Syrian government forces on Sunday seized a town from the Islamic State extremist militia near the northern city of al-Bab already under the control of Turkish-backed rebels, Syrian state media and monitors reported.

Egypt says at least 118 Christian families escape Sinai attacks

At least 90 families reached Egypt's Ismailiya governorate, after escaping targeted killings by a local Islamic State militia in northern Sinai in recent days, an official at the Coptic Orthodox Church said Sunday.

40,000 Croats suffer from anorexia and bulimia

More than 40,000 Croatians, mostly girls and young women aged between 12 and 30, suffer from anorexia, bulimia or some other eating disorder and that number is growing each year, experts at the centre for eating disorders BEA have reported.