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news 02 Mar 17

Serbia Opposition Slate Parliament's Enforced Holiday

Serbian opposition parties have condemned the speaker's decision to halt parliament's work until the April presidential election is over, calling it an attack on democracy.

Maja Zivanovic

President of Serbian Parliament Maja Gojkovic leaving the session on Wednesday I Photo: Beta/Milan Obradovic

Opposition party leaders and presidential candidates gathered in parliament on Thursday protesting against speaker Maja Gojkovic's decision to suspend parliament's work until after the presidential election in April.

They accused Gojkovic of suspending democracy itself, and some suggested the opposition would express its discontent on the streets.

Gojkovic called for a recess on Wednesday, citing prior consultations with the chiefs of the ruling parties and with the government led by Aleksandar Vucic.

But the opposition claimed the election process was being used, again, to impede the functioning of important institutions and postpone adoption of important laws and inter-state agreements. They called Gojkovic’s decision an attempt at silencing criticism.

On Thursday, Gojkovic told the public broadcaster RTS that there was a possibility of calling an extraordinary session, but only if there was an emergency.

The leader of right-wing Dveri party, Bosko Obradovic, who has announced his own candidacy in April's presidential elections, called it an “introduction of a personal dictatorship of Prime Minister and ruling coalition candidate [for president] Aleksandar Vucic."

“This is an introduction to electoral fraud; this is an attempt to abolish the Serbian parliament and it reflects Vucic's wish for only one election campaign to exist and for all the other rivals to just disappear,” he said in the chamber.

Liberal Democratic Party leader Cedomir Jovanovic said that enforced “silence is loudest” - and Vucic would pay a price for pushing parliament into the margins.

“Enough is Enough” leader Sada Radulovic called it a “Cowardly and disgraceful decision. This is unprecedented, suspending the work of parliament because a candidate who wants to abuse his position as Prime Minister fears discussion in the assembly," he said, of Vucic. "This is practically a state of emergency."

The opposition Democratic Party condemned Gojkovic’s decision and urged voters in Serbia to give the government, not parliament, “a long pause after April”.

Left Serbia party leader Borko Stefanovic wrote on Twitter: “Maybe we’ll have to go out onto the streets”.

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