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  • People attend an anti-government protest in Belgrade, Serbia, January 5, 2019.

    People attend an anti-government protest in Belgrade, Serbia, January 5, 2019. | Photo: File Photo.

Published 6 January 2019

Serbian demonstrators marched through the streets of Belgrade calling for media freedoms, halting attacks on journalists, and persecution of political opponents.

Thousands of Serbians took to the streets for the fifth week in a row, and braving tough winter weather conditions, to protest against President Alexander Vucic, leader of the Serbian Progressive Party (SNS).

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In the capital alone, 15,000 protesters were spotted marching through the city’s center.

The demonstrators called for media freedoms, halting attacks on journalists, and persecution of political opponents.

The banners carried by the people marching included “Stop the Treason, Defend the Constitution, and Back the People,” according to Reuters.

Protesters have no specific political affiliation, although they are receiving support from more than 30 opposition parties, according to Deutsche Welle.

In November 2018, an attack on opposition politician Borko Stefanovic, who was beaten by assailants, angered thousands of people and led to a series of protests.

Mr. Vucic started out as a nationalist politician and then turned EU-supporter and progressive leader, which are values under which the SNS was founded. His wide acceptance of both nationalist and pro-EU liberal ideas quickly defined him as a center-leaning progressive and earned him a strong political backing from conservative and progressive sectors of society, and this allowed him to win the elections with large amounts of support.

The break came in 2008 when the leader left the country’s radical parties to founded the SNS.

President Vucic is opposed to any form of electoral reform and increasing media freedom in Serbia, “even if there were 5 million people on the street,” said Vucic. The leader also stated his willingness to hold a snap election to confirm the alleged public support for this person.

In response to his statements, opposition groups have stated their unwillingness and boycott of any such election.

The last strong popular protests were held in the year 2000 when they were able to generate enough momentum to force the removal of Slodoban Milosevic.

While the post of the president in Serbia is largely ceremonial, it would appeal that his detractors are very busy at impending the continuation of his rule, as he may be seeking to enlarge the power and scope of his position.


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