Serbia’s opposition leader: We’ll boycott elections under current rules

NEWS 19.02.2019 22:12
Source: N1

Dragan Djilas, one of the leaders of the Alliance for Serbia (SzS) grouping told N1 on Tuesday that the opposition would not take part in any elections, early or time-honoured ballots if nothing changed in the current rules.

Serbia’s President Aleksandar Vucic said earlier in the day the citizens would soon decide in the elections who would rule the country and who would be the opposition.

“They (the authorities) exercise pressure for six years, criminalise the state, and then they say – elections. That is not an issue for us, neither is it a matter for people who are protesting,” Djilas said in N1 television Pressing talk show.

He added the people and opposition were interested in the return of democracy, freedom and an end to their (the authorities’) lies.”

The latest Freedom House report has said Serbia had dropped in ranking from Free to Partly Free country.

The report said that Serbia’s status declined due to deterioration in the conduct of elections, continued attempts by the government and allied media outlets to undermine independent journalists through legal harassment and smear campaigns, and Vucic’s de facto accumulation of executive powers that conflicted with his constitutional role.

Djilas on Tuesday said he did not pay much of attention to what Vucic talked about, because “he has lied a thousand times.”

“Five televisions (with national frequency) are under control, two which dared to be at least partly free are bought with the Telekom (state mobile provider) money, newspapers are under control, pressure rises across Serbia, those who support the protests (#1 in 5 million) in the Belgrade Lazarevac municipality are moved to other workplaces,” Djilas said.

He added that “if you don’t have the freedom to know what’s going on, there won’t be elections. Without free media elections in Serbia do not exist.”

“We are talking about election rules while we don’t have them for either general or local vote. I would support the test of Vucic’s (presidential) mandate as well since he won under irregular conditions.”

Asked what the opposition expected to gain through the boycott, Djilas said that since there was no democracy any more, the opposition had no use of sitting in the Parliament suffering insults.

“We have proposed so many ideas, and they haven’t been even considered. We are only accused of being criminals. What’s the use of talking when a few can hear us, and the authorities are continually offending us,“ Djilas asked.

Anti-government protests are held in some 60 places across Serbia. They were triggered by the beatings of an opposition leader and two of his associates last November and were first held under the „Stop to bloody Shirts“ slogan.

They continued on December 8 in Belgrade and had been held every Saturday evening since. In the meantime, they spread to other places and even to the northern part of the divided town of Mitrovica in Kosovo with a Serb majority ruled by local politicians loyal to Belgrade.

The main demands are Vucic’s resignation, fair elections and freedom of media.

The opposition leaders do not take an active role in the protest. The demonstrators asked them to draft an agreement in which they would promise to change the system once in power.

The SzS drafted the Agreement with the People and protesters started signing it last Saturday during the rally.

The protests were renamed #1 in 5 million after Vucic said he would not cede to their demands even if five million people gathered.

However, he launched The Future of Serbia campaign two weeks ago, visiting different districts and telling people about his regime’s achievements and blasting opposition as thieves.