“We do not accept”: Belgrade protest calls for new elections

A significant gathering took place in central Belgrade, Serbia, on Saturday, drawing thousands of individuals in what stands as the most substantial demonstration regarding the parliamentary and municipal elections held on December 17.

The demonstrators rallied for the annulment of the election results, congregating in a square waving Serbian flags and displaying a banner reading “We do not accept.”

Marinika Tepic, a leader within the opposition’s Serbia Against Violence alliance, received enthusiastic support from the crowd as she addressed them. Tepic, who commenced a hunger strike on December 18, emphasized the need to annul the elections during her speech in front of the Moskva hotel.

According to preliminary results released by the state election commission, the ruling Serbian Progressive Party (SNS) secured 46.72% of the votes in the snap parliamentary election. Tepic, assisted by two colleagues as she addressed the protesters, reiterated the alliance’s stance advocating for the annulment of the elections.

Allegations of widespread vote fraud have been raised by Serbia Against Violence against the SNS, accusations that the authorities firmly deny. An international monitoring mission that observed the elections highlighted concerns about the SNS benefiting from unfair advantages due to media bias, alleged influence from President Aleksandar Vucic, and reported irregularities like vote buying.

The Serbian authorities have consistently refuted claims of irregularities in the electoral process. Participants at the protest, such as Jovana Djokovic, a 29-year-old software developer, voiced their disapproval of the election outcome and expressed a sense of civic responsibility by attending the demonstration.

Since December 17, the opposition has conducted daily protests in front of the election commission, initially drawing smaller crowds. However, Saturday’s gathering in Belgrade saw increased participation, supported by student organizations and a coalition of public figures named ProGlas, consisting of intellectuals and actors.

In the election, Serbia Against Violence secured the second position with 23.56% of the votes, while the Socialist Party of Serbia attained the third position with 6.56%.

Complete and official election results are anticipated to be released in the coming month.

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