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Serbian Opposition Stages Antigovernment Rally


The leader of the conservative Serbian Progressive Party, Tomislav Nikolic

The leader of the conservative Serbian Progressive Party, Tomislav Nikolic

Tens of thousands of demonstrators are estimated to have turned up in the Serbian capital for an antigovernment rally organized by the country's most influential opposition party in hopes of forcing elections before 2012.

The leader of the conservative Serbian Progressive Party, Tomislav Nikolic, warned on the eve of the April 16 rally that "when we finish, [President Boris] Tadic will have no options but to call an early vote."

Tadic, who met Nikolic earlier in the week, said it was impossible to fix an election date until Serbia received the status of candidate for EU membership, which it did in late 2010.

A pro-European Union coalition has governed Serbia since 2008, but persistent economic hardship and frustration with slow EU integration has left many people disgruntled.

About 70,000 demonstrators gathered in central Belgrade in February to support the Progressive Party and its allies, and the party pledged to have bigger numbers for the latest event.

Supporters were bused from all over Serbia to attend the rally, where many waved banners calling for the fall of the current government.

compiled from Reuters and media reports
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