Amid a rising number of coronavirus cases, thousands of Serbs have been protesting against President Aleksander Vucic and his government over the handling of the pandemic. While on July 7 the Serbian government reintroduced lockdown to curb the spread of the deadly virus, since then protesters have been defying the ban on mass gatherings and illuminating the sky with flares and fireworks outside Serbia’s National Assembly. As per reports, over the week, 71 demonstrators have been arrested, while many reported being injured as well.
According to an international media outlet, the demonstrations were at first driven by frustration over economically stifling measures to contain the pandemic. however, the protests soon evolved into anti-government rallies with participants demanding President’s resignation. While some protesters tried to storm the Serbian parliament in central Belgrade, others threw bottles, rock and flares at the police guarding the building.
Even with increasing pressure to resign, the Serbian President reportedly said that he was not worried about losing political power. While speaking to international media reporters, Vucic, instead, expressed fear about the spread of COVID-19 by the ongoing protests. While calling the increasing number of coronavirus infections ‘horrific’, Vucic also added that it is ‘irresponsible’ to call upon people to gather and protest.
Amid the ongoing protests, On Friday, Serbia’s Prime Minister Ana Brnabic announced the highest daily number of deaths since the pandemic started in the Balkan country. Meanwhile, President Vucic ‘begged’ people to keep their health safe. The Serbian President reportedly said that nobody is going to take power by force. He added that the power is taken at the elations and people can protest as much as they want once the deadly pandemic is over.
With 386 new confirmed cases recorded over the past 24 hours, PM Brnabic also reportedly said that ‘hospitals are packed with sick’. She further urged people to ‘respect’ the measure in place to restrict the spread of the virus.
While the government reintroduced strict lockdown measures, protesters blamed the government’s decision to resume football matches, religious festivities, parties and private gathering in May. The demonstrators reportedly also blame the June 21 parliament elections for the surge of the infections. With ongoing unrest in the country, the Serbian President was forced to suspend his plans to enforce the lockdown, instead, he banned gathering of more than 10 people in the capital.