Anti-government demonstrators were signing “Agreement with the People” in Belgrade on Saturday night, the document drafted by the opposition after over two months of protests, N1 reported.
During the 11th Saturday in a row, under the #1 in 5 million slogan, they carried banners reading “Your (President Aleksandar Vucic) successes make us sick”, „Truth is priceless, that’s why you use it rarely”, “You are super, but go away now”, “Vucic is the most courageous man in the world since he has no shame,” and alike.
The demands included at least six months of free media before any elections which also should be held under changed rules or the opposition would boycott them.
The protesters also again requested the arrest of perpetrators, organisers and masterminds behind the assassination of Oliver Ivanovic, a Kosovo Serb opposition politician gunned down on January 16, 2018.
They reiterated demands for a five-minute report on the protest on the state RTS television, the resignation of its director and editor-in-chief and an equal media treatment for all political views on RTS.
This Saturday, protest was reported on for less than two minutes during the main evening news. RTS said the demonstrations were held in „several other cities.“
On Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays, protests are held in over 50 places across Serbia, including Nis, Novi Sad, Kragujevac, Cacak, Smederevo, Negotin, Sabac, Trstenik, Krusevac, Vranje, Subotica, Pancevo, Uzice, Gornji Milanovac…
“It is either him (Vucic) or we,” one of the speakers in Belgrade said to the exploding crowd attending the rally.
Bozo Prelevic, an attorney, asked “for how long can Europe keep silent if you promise Kosovo,” alluding on months of protests which went almost unnoticed by Western leaders, at least publicly.
Some foreign media reported on the demonstrations.
In the northern part of the divided town of Mitrovica, where the Serbs create a majority and where local authorities are loyal to Belgrade, about a hundred citizens protested for the second time.
Ahead of this Saturday protest, Vucic described opposition’s Agreement with the People as “a summary of incredible stupidity,” reiterating people can protest, but any violence would not be tolerated
Vucic, also the leader of the ruling Serbian Progressive Party (SNS), said he had more serious work to deal with than to comment on opposition leaders, adding they would never win elections with him running.
“I have read that agreement as well as the previous agreement with people which made some sense, except that they lied about everything. This one is nothing but an empty shell,” Vucic told reporters at the sidelines of the Munich Security conference.
Earlier on Saturday, the organisers said in a statement that „protesters showed they want a country where a government can change in fair election and citizens control the state administration.“
As usual, the leaders of the opposition did not address the crowd in Belgrade, and other places were people demonstrated.
After the first rally, Vucic said that “even if there were five million people in the street,” he would not cede to the opposition’s demands for electoral reform and increased media freedom.
Thus the protests were renamed into #1 in five million.
They spread across the country, and people had been gathering in over 50 places in Serbia.
The demonstrations started last November after an opposition leader Borko Stefanovic was heavily beaten up by thugs with metal bars ahead of the Alliance for Serbia (SzS) opposition grouping rally in the central town of Krusevac.
The SzS blamed the violence on the “dirtiest witch-hunt which Vucic’s regime wages daily against political opponents.”
The next day, the first protest was held in Belgrade under the “Stop bloody shirts“ motto.
Since December 8, they became regular.So far, Vucic mainly ignored the protests, saying the opposition was behind them and offered them fresh election to measure their strength, though the opposition leaders did not ask for any vote and the majority of the parties said they would boycott it if held under the current rules
.Earlier this week in what seems to be Vucic’s answer to the escalation of the protest, he launched The Future of Serbia campaign, touring different districts and presenting the people all the achievement under his rule and telling themm what was wrong with the previous regime whose leaders now joint the protests.
He denied the campaign was presidential and election activity. His SNS party announced session on whether to call an early election with many of high-ranked officials in favour.