Serbia Opposition MPs Boycott Parliament After Fresh Protests
MPs of parties mainly gathered in the opposition Alliance for Serbia boycotted Monday's session of the Serbian parliament, following mass anti-government protests, marring a visit by the President of Slovenia.
"We will not, by our participation in the session, give an illusion that there is democracy and functioning institutions in Serbia - and we want to send a strong message ... that things in Serbia do not function normally and that there is no democracy, no normal dialogue and freedom of expression," Miroslav Aleksic, an MPs of the People's Party, which is part of the opposition alliance, told Beta news agency.
Monday's extraordinary session was called to mark the visit of the President of Slovenia, Borut Pahor, who had come to address Serbian MPs.
A leader of the alliance, Dragan Djilas, tweeted on Sunday that he hoped that opposition MPs understood the message sent by people on the streets "not to return to the parliament".
Tens of thousands of people marched again in Belgrade on January 26 in the ninth anti-government protest against what they call "political violence", and demanding that President Aleksandar Vucic, head of the ruling Serbian Progressive Party, resigns.
Supporting rallies in other towns and cities across the country were held one day earlier.
Members of the opposition Democratic Party, which is also part of the alliance, handed the President of Slovenia on Monday a report on attacks on opposition representatives and the media, as well as pictures from the protests, Beta news agency reported.
Opposition MPs apologized to Pahor for boycotting the session and said they only made this decision because President Vucic had "put parliament in his pocket".