Europe 1 with AFP 17:21 p.m., December 30, 2023

Thousands of Serbs took to the streets of central Belgrade on Saturday to protest against what they said was the fraud that marred what they said was the December 17 parliamentary elections won by the nationalist right.

It was the 13th consecutive protest since the results of the parliamentary and local elections were announced, according to which Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic's SNS party, in power since 2012, won 46% of the vote against 23.5% for the opposition coalition.

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

"We are just asking for our voice to be heard"

Saturday's protest is organized by a group of intellectuals, artists and celebrities, ProGlass (a play on words that means both "proclamation" and "pro-vote"). Pro-glass had initially campaigned to call for people to vote, and its proclamation later turned into a protest against 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.

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"Students, aged 18 and 20, are accused of seeking to overthrow the constitutional order and are being subpoenaed to death. 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, are giving 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") group, managed to block a street in the center of Belgrade.

A gathering at a 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 on Saturday cheered particularly the opposition leader, Marinika Tepic, who has been on hunger strike since 18 December and had to be helped to 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.

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The location of the rally, 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.

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.