The Latest: Chanting, whistling crowd protests Vucic's win

AP News
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Posted: Apr 03, 2017 1:51 PM
The Latest: Chanting, whistling crowd protests Vucic's win

BELGRADE, Serbia (AP) — The Latest on Serbia's presidential election (all times local):

7:45 p.m.

Hundreds of mostly young people have gathered in downtown Belgrade to protest against the presidential victory of Serbia's autocratic leader Aleksandar Vucic.

Blowing whistles and chanting slogans against Vucic, the crowd stopped traffic in front of Serbia's parliament building on Monday.

The crowd gathered after calls on social media claimed Vucic has rigged the Sunday vote which gave him an overwhelming victory against a string of opposition candidates.

The opposition has claimed major election irregularities, including muzzling of the media and intimidation of voters.

They are chanting "We don't want you Vucic!" and "Vucic is a thief!"

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6:00 p.m.

A leading Serbian political analyst has criticized German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Russian President Vladimir Putin for receiving the Serbia's prime minister on the eve of the presidential election in which he was a candidate.

Faculty of Political Sciences professor Cedomir Cupic said Monday that Aleksandar Vucic had an unfair advantage over opposition candidates as he campaigned from the position of the prime minister.

Vucic visited Merkel and then went on to Moscow to talk to Putin on the eve of Sunday's presidential vote, which he won by a landslide.

Cupic said it was dangerous and bad for democracy to host a prime minister who was competing for the presidency.

A former extreme nationalist, Vucic has said he wants to lead Serbia into the European Union while pushing for deeper ties to longtime ally Russia.

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1:45 p.m.

Croatia's president has congratulated Serbia's president-elect Aleksandar Vucic and expressed hope of future cooperation to mend the still-tense relations between the former war foes from the Yugoslav conflict in the 1990s. Kolinda Grabar Kitarovic also said in her message that Croatia supports Serbia's integration into the European Union and is ready to help with its own experience from the accession process.

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1:25 p.m.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has congratulated Serbian Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic on his landslide victory in the Serbian presidential election.

Russia's TASS news agency quoted Putin as saying "your convincing election win points to wide popular support for your efforts aimed at solving pressing economic and social tasks facing Serbia, as well as at pursuing a meaningful and balanced foreign policy."

Vucic's victory Sunday could expand Russia's influence in the Balkans.

Right before the election, Vucic went to Moscow to visit Putin, who endorsed him. Putin reportedly has promised his signature on the delivery of fighter planes, battle tanks and armored vehicles to Serbia.

The move has triggered fears of an arms race in the war-weary Balkans.

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11:15 a.m.

The European Union official overseeing the bloc's enlargement says Serbian Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic has a duty to use his powers wisely after he swept the country's presidential election.

EU Enlargement Commissioner Johannes Hahn said Monday that Vucic has a "certain responsibility" in light of Sunday's polls "to use this strong support by the citizens in a careful way."

Hahn told reporters that he was comforted by Vucic's early assurances that "he will fully respect the constitutional framework, and I trust him."

A near-complete official vote count of Serbia's presidential election has confirmed that Vucic won by a landslide in the first round of voting.

While Vucic has said he wants to lead Serbia into the EU, he has been pushing for deeper ties to longtime ally Russia.

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11 a.m.

A near-complete official vote count of Serbia's presidential election has confirmed that Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic has won by a landslide in the first round of voting.

The State Election Commission said Monday after counting 91 percent of ballots that Vucic won 55 percent of votes, followed by liberal candidate Sasa Jankovic with 16 percent, and Luka Maksimovic, a parody politician, with 9 percent.

The triumph at Sunday's balloting presents a major boost for Vucic who is now expected to further tighten his already firm grip on power in Serbia.

A former extreme nationalist who has rebranded himself as pro-EU reformer, Vucic has said he wants to lead the Balkan country into the European Union, while pushing for deeper ties to longtime ally Russia.