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Serbia: Opposition Splits Over Anti-Vucic Inauguration Protest


By Maja Zivanovic

As Aleksandar Vucic prepares to be sworn in as Serbia’s new president, the country’s opposition has announced a pair of protests.

Serbia’s opposition announced two separate anti-government protests on Wednesday in Belgrade as Serbia’s president-elect, Aleksandar Vucic, prepared to assume his presidential post.

Protests are being organised in front of the Serbian parliament and will have the support of the majority of opposition parties and leaders. While the “Against Dictatorship” protest will take place at 10am, poll runner Sasa Jankovic announced his later in the day, at 6pm.

“I call all citizens, all organisations, all unions and political parties, all for which freedom and democracy are above all, to go out on Wednesday at 6pm on peaceful protests and say ‘no’ to the official introduction of the dictatorship in Serbia through the false coronation ceremony of Aleksandar Vucic,” Sasa Jankovic said in press release on Monday.

Jankovic’s team spokesperson Zeljko Veljkovic told BIRN that members of the movement will “show solidarity” the 10am protest.

Former Ombudsman and runner-up in the April 2 presidential elections, Sasa Jankovic, officially launched his own opposition Movement of Free Citizens on May 25. He announced that the movement would participate in all future polls.

The same day that Jankovic called his protest, an informal movement with the name “Against the Dictatorship” which organised massive anti-Vucic protests after his victory in the elections, announced new protests on Wednesday scheduled for 10am.

“It [the protest] won’t be the only one, as nothing will [be] solve[d] with one protest. We’ll not stop until our voice is heard loudly enough, in the whole of Serbia, until we break the media silence. Come and support … fight for the future,” said the movement in its post on Facebook.

The opposition Democratic Party, which backed up Sasa Jankovic’s presidential bid, immediately expressed its support for the protest.

“The Democratic Party supports calls for protests made by ‘Against the Dictatorship’ because every voice against dictatorship and for the normal country has and will have our support,” the Democrats said in a press release on Monday.

Meanwhille, the Democrats announced on Tuesday they will support Jankovic’s protest as well.

“Against the Dictatorship” received support from another opposition political movement “Enough is Enough”.

Head of the movement Sasa Radulovic made calls for people to attend the “Against the Dictatorship” protest on Twitter, appealing to all citizen who believe in the rule of law, independent institutions and media freedom.

Head of the party “Left Serbia” Borko Stefanovic, on the other hand, called the protest on Wednesday at 6pm, adding on Twitter that he “noticed some scheduled protest on Wednesday on different time”.

“Embarrassing. No communication. Faking,” wrote Stefanovic.

So as to avoid being termed part of the disunited opposition, the opposition far-right party Dveri called for citizent to attend the anti-Vucic protest, but without clarifying at which time.

“Protest against Vucic’s lies and dictatorship – always and at every place. Inside and outside. Both young and old. Both political and non-political. For victory,” tweeted the head of Dveri, Bosko Obradovic.

The opposition Liberal Democratic Party on the other hand condemned Sasa Jankovic for announcing his protest, adding that no one should be using energy created by students for political activity.

Serbian opposition parties already tried to unite before April 2 presidential elections, with joint support for Sasa Jankovic, but after few unsuccessful meetings decided to give up on the idea.

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The Balkan Insight (fornerkt 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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