Thousands continue to protest on the streets of Belgrade and across 90 towns in Serbia for the fourth month in a row, demanding free media and early elections.
In recent weeks, the demonstrations became more turbulent and rising tensions resulted in protesters breaking into Serbia’s state television building in Belgrade demanding unbiased coverage. 18 people were detained, and some have been sentenced to 30 days in prison.
Vučić responded saying he will pardon all the detainees who ask to be pardoned, apart from those who attacked the police with knives and the two men who entered the national TV station with a chainsaw.
But Vučić continues to reject accusations of electoral abuse and media manipulation, and refers to opposition leaders as “fascists, hooligans and thieves.” He has launched a “Future of Serbia” campaign, hinting at early elections, one of the protesters’ demands. His interior minister, Nebojsa Stefanovićhas confirmed March that the president is contemplating the best time to hold the elections, either in June this year or in spring 2020. Incidentally, in the past Vučić has infamously declared that “even if there were 5 million people on the streets”, he would reject any demands made by the protesters.
But protest organisers are not letting up. They have called for an all-Serbian protest to be held in Belgrade on April 13. Protests initially started after an opposition politician was beaten up in November.
Against the corruption in Montenegro
In the last six weeks, anti-government protests have also been taking place in Montenegro, with demands for the resignation of its long-serving president Milo Đukanović. His party has been ruling the country almost unchallenged for the last three decades. The demonstrations started after Djukanović’s former ally Duško Knežević, accused him and the ruling Democratic Party of Socialists (DPS) of corruption and dodgy business deals. A footage was published that shows Knežević delivering an envelope to a top official from the ruling party, which, according to Knežević, contained EUR 100,000. Reuters reports that both Djukanović and the DPS deny allegations.
But demonstrations continue. Balkan Insight reports that organisers of the protest Odupri se! (Resist!) have drawn up an agreement for the country’s main opposition parties on forming a national unity government that would enable free early elections.The “Agreement on the Future” proposes that the unity government is formed by the opposition parties, some of the former ruling parties and independent non-party intellectuals. The new prime minister would not come from the current ruling parties. The opposition is expected to respond before the next protest on 30 March.