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news 24 Sep 13

Political Coup Ousts Djilas as Belgrade Mayor

The leader of the Democrats has been removed from his post as Mayor of the Serbian capital, paving the way for early elections in the city.

Bojana Barlovac

Dragan Djilas has been dimissed as Mayor of Belgrade, depriving the Democratic Party - of which he is leader - of its last municipal stronghold in Serbia. The vote was carried by 60 out of 106 deputies in the city assembly.

The coup came after Serbia's governing Progressive Party, and the Democratic Party of Serbia, submitted a proposal to the city assembly on Monday to axe Djilas, which the Socialist Party then supported.

According to the motion, Djilas bears most responsibility for the poor financial situation of the Serbian capital.

Djilas described his removal from office as the result of "a political deal", which he said showed that the country was "sliding into dictatorship and a one-party system.

"My dismissal had nothing to do with the results that the current city administration has achieved," he said.

A political thriller concerning a potential change of power in Belgrade has been gripping the Serbian political scene for months.

Ever since the Socialists and Progressives formed a national government after the May general elections in 2012, the Socialists have been breaking off their coalition deals with the Democrats in the municipalities.

Belgrade was one of the few towns or cities in which the Socialists and Democrats were still in coalition.

Nikola Nikodijevic, of the Socialists, said new elections in the city will probably be held early next year.

In the meantime, the city will be run by current authorities of Belgrade before a new authority is elected.

Polls suggests the centrist Democrats - in power nationally before the last general election - will do poorly in the election.

A recent opinion poll said 40.6 per cent of voters in the city intended to back the Progressives while only 19.3 per cent supported the Democrats.

The survey was conducted by Faktor Plus agency in early September.

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