Serbian opposition parties say they have begun boycotting the national parliament in a show of solidarity with a wave of protests against President Aleksandar Vucic.
The Alliance for Serbia, a grouping of opposition parties and organizations, said on February 11 that its lawmakers won’t take part in parliament sessions until the protesters’ demands are met and “conditions are created for free and fair elections."
The announcement comes amid weekly protests by thousands of people that began in December and have spread from the capital, Belgrade, to a dozen other cities and towns.
The demonstrators have been demanding Vucic’s resignation and early elections, accusing the president of stifling democratic liberties, cracking down on political opponents, and controlling the media.
Vucic has denied the accusations and rejected the protesters’ calls.
"We don't want to be a part of a facade democracy and provide legitimacy to a totalitarian regime which stifles all opposition and treats political rivals as state enemies," the Alliance for Serbia said in its statement.
Bosko Obradovic, head of the right-wing Dveri (Door) movement, said that lawmakers of the alliance will boycott plenary sessions but will remain inside the parliament building, holding news conferences and briefings.
The opposition parties “have an obligation to the thousands who are protesting...to demand a normal system and a normal Serbia," according to Sanda Raskovic Ivic, head of the center-right Democratic Party of Serbia.
The boycott is not expected to halt the work of the legislature, where Vucic’s ruling Serbian Progressive Party (SNS) and its Socialist allies hold 160 of the 250 seats.
Serbia Opposition Announces Parliament Boycott, Calls For Snap Elections