The protest movement is not weakening. Thousands of Serbs took to the streets of central Belgrade on Saturday (30 December) to protest against what they said was the fraud that marred the parliamentary elections on 17 December, which they said were won by the nationalist right.

This is the thirteenth consecutive protest and by far the largest since the results of the parliamentary and local elections were announced, in which Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic's SNS (nationalist right) party won 46% of the vote against 23.5% for the opposition coalition.

The opposition disputed the results, citing numerous irregularities, including the fact that Bosnian Serbs were allegedly illegally allowed to vote in the capital. International observers have also reported numerous irregularities.

Read alsoIn Serbia, the protests do not weaken after "rigged" elections

'Stolen election'

Saturday's protest is organized by a group of intellectuals, artists and celebrities who call themselves ProGlas, a play on words that means both "proclamation" and "pro-vote" in Serbian. ProGlas began by campaigning to call on Serbs to vote, and its message later morphed into a protest against electoral fraud.

But the protesters gathered on Saturday came from all sides, from the main opposition coalition "Serbia Against Violence" to student and youth groups that have been protesting for nearly two weeks.

"Students, aged 18, 20, are accused of seeking to overthrow the constitutional order and placed under house arrest. Is this a sign of fair elections?" said Emilija Milenkovic, one of the leaders of the student movement, on Saturday. "We're just asking that our voice be heard at least when we vote."

A university professor, Filip Ejdus, welcomed the fact that students, "nowadays, give us lessons in civic responsibility and courage." "We reject this stolen election, the arrests of students and the torture by the police," he added.

On Friday, students, at the call of the Borba ("Fight" in Serbian) group, managed to block a street in the center of Belgrade.

Read alsoSerbia: President Vucic's "double game" with the European Union

Symbolic place

Protesters have been relentlessly demanding the cancellation of the elections and serious investigations into fraud, so that new elections can be held in six months' time.

The crowd cheered opposition leader Marinika Tepic on Saturday, who has been on hunger strike since December 18 and had to be helped onto the stage.

"The only thing I can tell you is that everything has already been said. These elections must be annulled," she said, before going to the hospital and announcing that she was ending her hunger strike.

The location of the gathering, around the Terazije fountain, is symbolic, linked in memory to the four days of demonstrations in March 1991, the first major protests against the strongman of the time, Slobodan Milosevic, indicted in 1999 for war crimes and crimes against humanity at the end of the Yugoslav wars.

Last Sunday, demonstrators denouncing the disputed results of the parliamentary elections in Serbia attacked the Belgrade city hall, smashing windows with stones, before being pushed back by police. About 30 arrests were made.

With AFP

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