One of the leaders of the opposition bloc, Alliance for Serbia, Dragan Djilas, said that the elections in Serbia are not a topic that the opposition is concerned with at this moment, and if the authorities don’t secure fair conditions for elections, the opposition bloc will not participate in them.
“We want people to have the opportunity to vote freely,” Djilas pointed out for TV N1.
Serbia’s President Aleksandar Vucic said earlier in the day the citizens would soon decide in the elections who would rule the country and who would be in the opposition.
“They (the authorities) have been exerting pressure for six years now, criminalized the state, and now they are crying ‘elections’. That is not an issue for us, neither is it an issue for people who are protesting,” Djilas said.
He added the people and opposition were interested “in the return of democracy, freedom and an end to their (the authorities’) lies.”
The latest Freedom House report has said Serbia had dropped in ranking from Free to Partly Free country.
The report said that Serbia’s status declined due to deterioration in the conduct of elections, continued attempts by the government and allied media outlets to undermine independent journalists through legal harassment and smear campaigns, and Vucic’s de facto accumulation of executive powers that conflicted with his constitutional role.
Djilas added he did not pay much of attention to what Vucic talked about, because “he has lied a thousand times.”
“Five televisions (with national frequency) are under control, two which dared to be at least partly free are bought with the Telekom (state telephony services provider) money, newspapers are being controlled, while pressures across Serbia are growing. For instance, people from the Belgrade municipality of Lazarevac, who support the protests (#1 in 5 million), have been removed from their workplaces”, Djilas underlined.
He added that “if you don’t have the freedom to know what’s going on, there won’t be elections. Elections in Serbia cannot take place without free media.”
Asked what the opposition was expected to gain through the boycott of elections, Djilas said that since there was no democracy any more, the opposition had no use of sitting in the Parliament, suffering insults.
“We have proposed so many ideas, and they haven’t been even considered. We are constantly being accused of being criminals. What’s the use of talking when only a few can hear us, and the authorities are continually insulting us,” Djilas asked.
Anti-government protests are held in some 60 places across Serbia. They were triggered by the beatings of an opposition leader and two of his associates last November and were first held under the “Stop to bloody Shirts” slogan.
They continued on December 8th in Belgrade and have been held every Saturday evening since. In the meantime, they spread to other places and even to the northern part of the divided town of Mitrovica in Kosovo with a Serb majority ruled by local politicians loyal to Belgrade.
The main demands are Vucic’s resignation, fair elections and freedom of media.
The opposition leaders do not take an active role in the protest. When asked why no opposition leaders have addressed the protests so far, Djilas replied that it was more important for citizens to hear what activists like Marija Bogdanović, Zoran Ivošević or Čedomir Čupić had to say, rather than opposition politicians.
“This government is crumbling. They have been in power for seven years now, and only three months ago, people were convinced that Vucic would rule for another 10 years. Today, everyone thinks his remaining time in power is very short. There are even his supporters who think that he will stay in power for a long time. He brings supporters with him wherever he goes, but many of them don’t want to be a part of it any longer. The system is falling. It’s only a matter of time when it is going to collapse completely”, Djilas concluded.
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