Several hundred people have gathered at an opposition protest demanding that an upcoming local election in the Serbian capital of Belgrade be free and fair.
News sources reported that opposition leaders have alleged that the ruling parties have been beefing up voters’ lists ahead of the ballot expected next spring. The authorities have denied this.
The Belgrade race is viewed as a test of President Aleksandar Vucic’s rule. Vucic swept the presidential elections earlier this year and his right-leaning coalition controls the government, but opposition parties are hoping to undermine his power in Belgrade.
Opposition leaders have accused Vucic of stifling democratic freedoms, exerting pressure on the media and threating opponents.
Moreover, the 'Free Citizens' movement led by Sasa Jankovic announced a protest in Belgrade on Friday, demanding 'free and fair' elections ahead of local polls in Belgrade due next year.
Jankovic, who is also a runner in the April 2 presidential elections, called on citizens, NGOs, political parties and unions to join a protest in Belgrade on Friday on “the right of citizens to fair and free elections”.
Jankovic accused the ruling Serbian Progressive Party of planning “election fraud” in the elections in Belgrade due next year.
In support of this claim, he said the number of registered voters in the Belgrade municipalities of Vracar and Zvezdara had risen suspiciously lately, claiming that supporters of the Progressive Party from other cities were being registered to vote in Belgrade.
Former Foreign Minister Vuk Jeremic said on Thursday that he agreed with Jankovic on the joint list of “election demands” which will be read out during the protest and would be there in person. “We are fighting for fair and civilized electoral conditions,” he said.
However, Interior Minister and senior Progressive Party official Nebojsa Stefanovic has denied the claim as “malicious”, adding that that the number of people in the capital was “statistically increasing in an even manner”.