Pro-president rally in spite of ongoing shock at deadly shootings in Serbia
Tens of thousands of people converged on the Serbian capital on Friday for a major rally in support of President Aleksandar Vucic, who is facing an unprecedented revolt against his autocratic rule amid the crisis triggered by two mass shootings that stunned the nation.
Addressing the rain-drenched crowd, Vucic blasted the opposition for seeking his resignation for mishandling the crisis and creating divisions within the country. The two shootings early May left 18 people dead.
Referring to large anti government protests held in the past weeks, Vucic accused opposition politicians of “trying to abuse the tragedy.”
“The politicians will go down in history of dishonor because they abused the biggest tragedy in the history of our nation,” he said. “Those politicians deserve only contempt.”
But Vucic still invited the opposition to dialogue about their demands.
“All along they had just one desire, to topple me and topple the government of Serbia,” he said. “Those politicians weren’t even interested in children.”
Vucic reiterated he will step down as his Serbian Progressive Party's leader on Saturday and announced plans to form a new, nation-wide movement that is to include politicians, prominent intellectuals, artists and others.
“I am not going anywhere,” he said. “We will defend Serbia together.”
The organizers said that “hundreds of thousands” of participants attended the gathering in front of Serbia's National Assembly amid rain and a thunderstorm that drove many to find a shelter.
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