Serbians protest outcome of presidential race for third day

AP News
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Posted: Apr 05, 2017 4:13 PM
Serbians protest outcome of presidential race for third day

BELGRADE, Serbia (AP) — Several thousand people rallied in Serbia's capital for the third day in row on Wednesday to protest the victory of the country's powerful leader, Aleksandar Vucic, in last weekend's presidential election.

Blowing whistles and chanting slogans against Vucic, crowds marched through Belgrade and other cities. They held banners with slogans such as "Down with dictatorship" and "Stop the government terror."

The protesters, most of them young, have gathered on the streets in response to calls on social media. It was not clear who is organizing the events, although government officials claim the demonstrations are the work of political opponents.

Student organizations in Belgrade and the northern city of Novi Sad say they are demanding replacement of the state election commission, the editors of the state television, and the parliament speaker.

"I am here because I think that there is no democracy in this country any longer," protester Mihajlo Saranovic said at the Belgrade rally.

"I think that something needs to change and I am here to express my discontent with the current situation," he said.

The students said they will demand early parliamentary elections if their requests are not met.

Vucic, who is currently serving as the prime minister, won the Sunday vote by a landslide against a string of fractured opposition candidates. A former extreme nationalist-turned pro-EU reformer, Vucic has faced accusations of ruling autocratically.

Vucic's interior minister, Nebojsa Stefanovic, said earlier Wednesday that the street protests were "highly political" and orchestrated by the opposition candidates who lost the election.

The opposition has alleged the election was marred by major irregularities, including muzzling of the media, voter intimidation and bribes.