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News 19 Mar 12

Mass Protest in Podgorica Calls Govt to Account

Over ten thousand of people, angered by what see as rising corruption in government and society, rallied in Podgorica’s central square.

Milena Milosevic
BIRN
Podgorica

The protest, held under the slogan “It’s about time", was organized on Sunday by the NGO MANS, Free Trade Unions and the Students’ Union.

"The Montenegrin spring has come,” Vanja Calovic, head of MANS, told the protesters, who came by bus from all over Montenegro with banners reading “The fuse is short” and “You should be afraid”.

“We want police who can also arrest the former prime minister”, Calovic added, referring to the country's longtime leader Milo Djukanovic.

She urged Igor Luksic, the current Prime Minister, either to join the fight against organized crime and join the mafia on its way to prison.

Srdjan Kekovic, chairman of the Free Trade Unions, demanded social justice and called for an investigation into all dubious privatizations of former state companies.

“Where are 7 million euro spent on bribing government officials during the privatization of Telekom? Where are millions of euro that Russians claim they invested in the Podgorica Aluminum Plant?" he asked.

"Why is the state power company sold for a 100 million lower than one of the bids offered in the tender?” Kekovic added.

Demir Hodzic, leader of the Montenegrin Students’ union, advocated free education on behalf of 25,000 of his colleagues.

The rally was a continuation of protests in January when people, angered by electricity prices rises, gathered in front of the government building.

On Sunday, organizers repeated demands for the resignation of the heads of the regulatory agency for energy and for lower electricity bills.

They also called on the government to resign if cannot meet the demands presented at the protest, which also included greater freedom of speech, investigation into attacks on journalists and end to what they see as the nepotism prevailing in society.

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