Thousands protest Serbian presidential outcome for 7th day

The protests have taken place every day since last Sunday’s election, which opposition groups say was marred by irregularities

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BELGRADE, Serbia — Thousands of people protested for the seventh consecutive day Sunday against the presidential election victory of Serbia’s powerful Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic, amid fresh allegations by the opposition of a rigged vote count.

The protests by mostly young people have been held every day since last Sunday’s election, in which Vucic polled 55 per cent of the vote and avoided a runoff.

Opposition groups have alleged irregularities, including muzzling of the media during the campaign and voter intimidation and Election Day bribe.

Sasa Jankovic, the liberal candidate who placed a distant second in the race, alleged Sunday that ballots from 25 polling stations showed evidence of massive fraud in Vucic’s favour.

Vucic denied the allegation and told the state electoral commission to do a recount from two of the mentioned voting stations.

The recount done live on state TV turned up four suspicious ballots, not the hundreds the opposition had claimed.

Jankovic’s advisers said the recount itself was invalid because the ballots could have been tampered with in the meantime. They said they would file criminal charges against officials who counted the ballots at the polling stations.

“I’m expressing my serious suspicion that those votes counted today could have been somehow modified,” Vesna Rakic Vodinelic, a member of Jankovic’s legal team, said.

On Sunday, Vucic downplayed the number of people turning out to protest his election. Participation in the week of protests peaked on Saturday at more than 20,000.

He also denied potentially “stealing” nearly 319,000 votes during the elections, as claimed by the opposition, describing the allegations as “notorious stupidity.”

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