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Protests Turn Violent in Belgrade Following Election Fraud Allegations

In response, police deployed tear gas, prompting accusations of excessive force from opposition figures.

Protests in Belgrade took a violent turn as police used tear gas to disperse crowds gathered outside the city hall, marking a stark escalation in demonstrations that have unfolded since last week’s general election. Opposition activists claim electoral fraud, asserting that the ruling party manipulated the results.

Tensions flared when a section of the crowd attempted to force entry into the city hall, smashing windows in the process. In response, police deployed tear gas, prompting accusations of excessive force from opposition figures. Radomir Lazovic, co-leader of the Green-Left Front, reported that he and others were beaten by officers wielding truncheons.

The Serbia Against Violence opposition coalition, among those leading peaceful protests since the elections, witnessed a shift in dynamics on Sunday when supporters tried to break into the city hall. Opposition leaders Srdjan Milivojevic and Vladimir Obradovic faced police intervention as they sought entry.

Opposition leaders suspect provocateurs played a role in escalating the situation, leading to the police response. Despite the outbreak of violence, protesters continue to insist that thousands of votes were stolen in Belgrade’s city elections, a claim the authorities deny.

Protesters allege that the government bused in individuals to manipulate the vote, particularly in Belgrade. They are calling for a re-run of the polls. The recent elections returned President Aleksandar Vucic’s Serbian Progressive Party to power with a parliamentary majority.

Domestic and international observers have reported irregularities, including claims of ballot box stuffing and vote buying. In an emergency address, President Vucic blamed the unrest on foreign interference, labeling those opposing him as “thugs.”

The opposition, hoping to challenge the ruling party’s majority and gain control of Belgrade, faced disappointment as official results, denounced as fraudulent, dashed their aspirations. Daily protests, hunger strikes by seven opposition figures, and allegations of electoral misconduct have characterized the post-election landscape.

As tensions persist, the electoral commission announced a re-run in approximately 30 polling stations out of 8,000 nationwide. Germany expressed concern over the allegations of electoral misconduct, deeming them “unacceptable” for a country aspiring to join the EU. The situation remains fluid as both sides continue to navigate the aftermath of the contested elections.

Kiki Garba

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