Tens of thousands of Serbs demonstrated on Saturday for the fourth consecutive week against the Belgrade government, accused of fueling a culture of violence after two shootings that left 18 dead in early May. Surrounding the headquarters of national television, the demonstrators demanded the resignation of the management and editors of the chain. On his part, the Serbian president, Aleksandar Vucic, resigned on Saturday from the leadership of his party.
Despite torrential rain, tens of thousands of protesters returned to protest violence in the Serbian capital on Saturday, May 27, a movement that began in the wake of two deadly shootings and turned into a demonstration of anger against the government. .
United under the slogan “Serbia against violence”, protesters have poured into the streets of Belgrade every week since the massacres in the Balkan country occurred less than 48 hours apart earlier this month.
On May 3, a 13-year-old teenager killed nine of his classmates and a school guard. Less than 48 hours later, a young man murdered eight people in two towns near the capital.
People initially demonstrated in mourning, but the protest appears to have turned into a vast movement of anger against the power of President Aleksandar Vucic, who has ruled the Balkan country for nearly a decade.
“I am here because I am fed up with lies and corruption,” Vucic told the French news agency AFP. Dusan Valent, a 40-year-old protester, declared that “nothing will change here until people realize that it is possible and that they have a choice.”
Demonstrations that threaten the Government
The protesters demand that the licenses of television stations close to the Government that publish violent content be revoked, and accuse the Executive of having created or tolerated a “climate of violence” in Serbia. They also call for the resignation of the Interior Minister and the head of the intelligence services.
In response, President Aleksandar Vucic himself organized a large rally of his supporters, who had traveled to Belgrade from all over Serbia on buses on Friday, leading human rights activists to say some protesters had been pressured to participate.
The head of state once again accused the opposition parties of having “tried to abuse the tragedy” for political purposes, while he was more conciliatory than in recent times with the protesters themselves.
Vucic leaves the leadership of his party
Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic stepped down as head of his conservative SNS party on Saturday, announcing the creation of a new political movement.
The 53-year-old president, who dominates the local political scene, is often criticized by his detractors for his “autocratic” way of running the country and his domination of the media and public institutions.
At his big rally on Friday night in Belgrade, he announced the creation of the Movement for the People and the State at the end of June, which, according to the president, is aimed at attracting intellectuals, artists and other personalities in the country.
“From tomorrow, I will be (only) the president of all citizens of Serbia and I will stop being the president of a political party,” declared the head of state.
“It is a way of overcoming the crises that could break out within the SNS” and “by creating a new movement, he wants to ensure another political mandate,” according to Bojan Klacar, director of CESID, an independent electoral observatory.
At the proposal of Aleksandar Vucic, the current defense minister, Milos Vucevic, was chosen to lead the SNS.
Tensions between Serbia and Kosovo
The last time Serbs marched in such large numbers was during the 2000 demonstrations that brought down former Serb leader Slobodan Milosevic.
On Friday, the Government of Kosovo sent security elements to various municipalities, most of which were ethically Serb, to install mayors aligned with the Kosovar Administration, accused of favoring the ethnically Albanian majority in the country, which led to confrontations between the forces of the Kosovo order and civilians.
In response to the decision of the Executive of the Kosovar Prime Minister, Albin Kurti, the Serbian president ordered the deployment of the Serbian army on the border with Kosovo, accusing the Kurti government of instilling “terror in the Serb community” in the country.
“The actions of the Kosovo Executive have unnecessarily escalated tensions, undermining our efforts to help normalize relations between Kosovo and Serbia and will have consequences for our bilateral relations with Kosovo,” US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken said.
The internal protests in Serbia and the growing tensions with Kosovo could break the fragile stability of the region, which has historically faced an ethnic conflict that, at present, seems to remain entrenched in its relations.
Adapted from its original in French
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