The Serbian capital is preparing for a significant pro-government rally this Friday, with tens of thousands anticipated to show up in support of President Aleksandar Vucic. The mass gathering comes at a time when Vucic is confronting an extraordinary wave of dissent against his authoritative regime, a crisis that has been exacerbated by the shock of two recent mass shootings in the nation.
Mobilizing Support for the Rally
President Vucic has urged citizens to participate in what he’s termed “the largest rally in Serbia’s history.” His appeal seems to have found resonance, with many of his supporters donning identical T-shirts featuring Vucic’s image, being transported to Belgrade from various regions of the Balkan nation, as well as neighboring Kosovo and Bosnia.
State employees and personnel from various institutions have reportedly been granted a day off to participate in the rally, which will be held in front of the parliamentary building. Rumors have emerged that failure to attend could result in job losses. Buses were seen arriving several hours prior to the rally’s commencement.
Addressing a Divided Nation
Serbian officials stated that the rally is meant to foster “unity and hope” within Serbia. This comes in the wake of three sizable anti-government protests held in the capital earlier this month, during which protestors called for Vucic’s resignation, as well as that of two high-ranking security officials.
Protestors also called for the revocation of broadcasting licenses for two pro-Vucic television stations, accusing them of promoting violence and frequently featuring convicted war criminals and other criminal figures.
Opposition protestors have implicated Vucic in fostering a culture of despair and division in the country, indirectly contributing to the tragic mass shootings that occurred on May 3 and 4. These events resulted in 18 fatalities and 20 injuries, many of them schoolchildren who fell victim to a 13-year-old shooter.
Vucic has vehemently rejected these accusations, referring to the organizers of the opposition protests as “vultures” and “hyenas” seeking to usurp power forcibly and without electoral approval.
Political analysts suggest that Vucic, who has held the reins of power in Serbia for over a decade, is attempting to eclipse the opposition protests by organizing this mass rally.
During the rally, Vucic is anticipated to announce his resignation as the leader of the Serbian Progressive Party, intending to establish “a movement” to unify all “patriotic forces” in the country. Speculation also abounds that he may call for new parliamentary elections in September, a move the opposition is unlikely to accept under the current conditions.