Serbia: Opposition Protesters Demand ‘Fair’ Election


Several thousand demonstrators marched on Saturday evening in a new protest demanding fair and free elections in Serbia.

By Maja Zivanovic and Filip Rudic

In the second large protest against Serbian government and President Aleksandar Vucic in one week, thousands of protesters massed on the streets of Belgrade to demand for elections to be free and fair.

The rally comes after President Vucic earlier warned that he would not meet the demands of protesters.

Despite bad weather, the protest drew more people than the previous one on December 8, which was attended by 15,000 people according to the opposition.

Several opposition parties on Friday signed an agreement on commonly agreed conditions for free and fair elections.

The document was signed by the Alliance for Serbia, the Democratic Party of Serbia, the Social Democratic Party, the New Party, the Democratic Union of Vojvodina Hungarians, the Enough is Enough movement, the Movement of the Centre, the Civil Platform and the civic initiative Let’s Not Drown Belgrade.

The key demands are the effective prevention of abuse of the electoral roll and of public resources in the campaign, control of the electoral process, including in Kosovo, control of election campaigns and during election day, and criminal sanctions against those that abuse the campaign.

In his reaction to the demands, Vucic said he would not agree to them – and hinted that he might call snap elections instead.

After the protesters gathered in the centre of Belgrade, they walked close to several key institutions, including the parliament building and the building housing the Serbian public broadcaster, RTS.

This is second anti-government protest this month, after several thousand people participated in a march called “No More Bloodied Shirts” in Belgrade on December 8, which was held after a journalist was beaten up and left with a bloodied shirt.

Balkan Insight

The Balkan Insight (formerly the Balkin Investigative Reporting Network, BIRN) is a close group of editors and trainers that enables journalists in the region to produce in-depth analytical and investigative journalism on complex political, economic and social themes. BIRN emerged from the Balkan programme of the Institute for War & Peace Reporting, IWPR, in 2005. The original IWPR Balkans team was mandated to localise that programme and make it sustainable, in light of changing realities in the region and the maturity of the IWPR intervention. Since then, its work in publishing, media training and public debate activities has become synonymous with quality, reliability and impartiality. A fully-independent and local network, it is now developing as an efficient and self-sustainable regional institution to enhance the capacity for journalism that pushes for public debate on European-oriented political and economic reform.

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