Monday, March 04, 2024 |
Share this story
Protesters clash with anti-riot police Sunday in Belgrade, Serbia. (AP Photo/Darko Vojinovic)
BELGRADE, Serbia — Serbian police said Monday they detained at least 38 people who took part in a protest against reported widespread irregularities during a recent general ballot that declared the governing populists as winners of parliamentary and local elections.
Opposition group Serbia Against Violence has been staging protests since the Dec. 17 elections, saying there was election fraud, particularly in the capital, Belgrade. Some opposition politicians went on hunger strike.
On Sunday evening, protesters tried to enter Belgrade city hall, breaking windows, before riot police pushed them back using tear gas, pepper spray and batons.
More protests were held on Monday evening. Hundreds gathered outside the seat of the state election commission in central Belgrade before walking toward city police headquarters, where the detained opposition supporters are believed to be held.
Representatives of Serbia Against Violence have said they will not recognize the election results, calling instead for the vote to be annulled and held again in a free and fair election. The alliance last week urged the EU to investigate the results after international observers said the vote was held in “unjust conditions.”
U.S. Ambassador Christopher Hill, who has been criticized by the opposition for his alleged pro-government statements, on Monday denounced “violence and vandalism” during Sunday’s protest. On X, formerly Twitter, Hill added that “the legitimacy of democratic processes depends upon transparency and on the readiness of all parties, winning or losing, to respect the will of the people as expressed at the ballot box.”
Senior police official Ivica Ivkovic told reporters that those detained were facing charges of inciting violent change to the constitutional order — in reference to attempting to overthrow the government — and violent behavior. He added that eight officers were injured, including some seriously.
The opposition said that police used excessive force and beat up some of its supporters.
Also on Monday, several hundred university students and other citizens blocked traffic at a key Belgrade street that hosts government headquarters, braving a police warning against blockades in the capital. No incidents were reported as some students played volleyball and soccer on a sunny day.
Police “are ready and capable of countering any acts of violence with determination,” Ivkovic said.
Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *