Both Serbia's ruling and opposition MPs on hunger strike; reasons different

Source: N1

After an independent MP started a hunger strike sitting on Serbia's Parliament stairs on Sunday, the leader of the opposition Dveri nationalist movement joined him, and after a while, two ruling Serbian Progressive Party (SNS) deputies brought chairs outside the Assembly building and also started a hunger strike, but for quite the opposite reasons, N1 reported.

In a sign of an ever-deepening political crisis in Serbia and sharp split among the population, Miladin Sevarlic, said he decided to starve himself because he was not allowed to initiate a debate about „the violation of Serbia’s territorial integrity and sovereignty and the UN Resolution 1244,“ which was neutral regarding the Kosovo final status.

Dveri leader Bosko Obradovic first held a news conference reiterating his movement would boycott the June 21 general election, and soon afterwards, joined Sevarlic.

„Not only to preserve Kosovo and Metohija (still the official name for Kosovo in Serbia) within Serbia, though it’s the main issue but also because of the violations of the Constitution, the destruction of democracy and (in favour of) the postponement of elections,“ he told reporters.

He called on other opposition MPs to join him and said he wouldn’t end it until the authorities invited the opposition for talks.

After a while, Aleksandar Mitrovic and Sandra Bozic, SNS’s MPs, also declared the hunger strike, but because, according to them, the prosecutors didn’t react to Obradovic’s actions.

 Sergej Trifunovic, the leader of the opposition Free Citizens Movement (PSG), said Obradovic’s decision to go on hunger strike was an attempt „by an MP to bring dignity back to the Parliament.“

He said he would gladly join Obradovic „but, I’m not an MP.“

Trifunovic’s PSG decided to run in the elections, despite the earlier promise it wouldn’t.

However, the largest opposition grouping Alliance for Serbia remains firm in not taking part in the vote.

Originally, Serbia’s general elections were scheduled for April 26. Still, the vote had to be moved for a later date due to coronavirus epidemic, and the state of emergency declared on March 15 and lifted four days ago.

The opposition accused President Aleksandar Vucic of violating the Constitution by abusing power and using the epidemic for an election campaign.

Some opposition leaders believe that the civil discontent with the regime’s handling of the epidemic, in general, was a sign of declining support to Vucic and his ruling coalition and that the decision to boycott the vote should be changed.

In many places across the country,for over ten days during the curfew introduced as a part of the state of emergency, people were protesting by banging pots, whistling and playing loud music from their windows and balconies.

SNS supporters reacted by lightening torches and insulting one of the opposition leaders Dragan Djilas, the most frequent target by the regime and media it controlled.

Djilas won over Vucic in the vote for the Mayor of Belgrade in 2008 and then, as the leader of the Democratic party, beat Vucic’s list in 2012 in the elections in the capital.