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News 13 Dec 17

Serbia's Djilas Vows to Recapture Belgrade Mayoralty

Former Belgrade mayor and Democratic Party ex-leader Dragan Djilas has confirmed that he will run for the mayoralty again in local elections in Serbia’s capital next March.

Filip Rudic
BIRN
Belgrade
Dragan Djilas. Photo: Medija Centar.

Former Democratic Party leader and businessman Dragan Djilas has said that he will run for mayor of Belgrade again in March next year, challenging the as-yet-unannounced candidate of Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic’s ruling Progressive Party.

"I have decided to enter the Belgade mayoral race and do what ever I can to stop the Serbian capital's decay," Djilas told the Serbian weekly NIN in an interview to be published on Thursday, which some media obtained in advance.

He added that he still believes that the opposition can unite ahead of the coming elections.

In October, Djilas alleged that he had been threatened with arrest if he tried to run for mayor in the March elections.

He has already secured support from the Free Citizens’ Movement, led by former Ombudsman and presidential candidate Sasa Jankovic, who was the runner-up behind Vucic in the presidential elections in April this year.

At a press conference on Tuesday, Jankovic invited all "democratic forces" in Serbia to join a united front.

"All who envision Serbia as a democratic country governed by laws and institutions, not lies and force, are welcome to join the democratic bloc," Jankovic said.

However, the Free Citizens’ Movement has recently seen prominent figures leaving its ranks, leading experts to say that the defections could seriously damage its odds in the Belgrade elections.

Djilas’ former Democratic Party also announced in October that it will run its own candidate in the Belgrade elections.

Djilas was the mayor of Belgrade from 2008 to 2013, until his Democratic Party’s coalition partner, the Socialist Party of Serbia, aligned with Vucic’s Progressives to form a new majority.

He led the Democratic Party from 2012 to 2014, after ousting its previous leader and former Serbian President Boris Tadic.

Djilas himself was then ousted in 2014.

He attracted some criticism during his time in office in Belgrade.

While the centrist Democratic Party was in power, Djilas was alleged to have had a strong influence over Serbian media as owner of Direct Media, a company that sold advertising space in various electronic media outlets.

While he was mayor of Belgrade, the city organised several evictions of informal Roma settlements, despite objections from human rights advocates.

As mayor, Djilas was also outspokenly against the organisation of Pride parades in Serbia's capital. 

He is currently the co-owner of the multimedia communications company Multikom Group.

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