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Serbian Nationalist Leader Continues Hunger Strike

Serbian opposition leader Tomislav Nikolic in a Belgrade hospital
Serbian opposition leader Tomislav Nikolic in a Belgrade hospital
BELGRADE -- Serbia's nationalist opposition leader Tomislav Nikolic is in the fifth day of a hunger strike to demand early elections, RFE/RL's Balkan Service reports.

Doctors at the private Belgrade hospital where Nikolic was taken on April 16 several hours after he began the hunger strike said his condition was stable, thanks to medical therapy and an intravenous drip that was inserted on April 19.

Nikolic, who has refused both food and water during the strike, is the head of the Serbian Progressive Party. It is demanding that President Boris Tadic call early elections because of the political and economic situation in the country.

Tadic has said he will announce new elections after Serbia becomes a candidate for European Union membership. He also called on Nikolic to end his hunger strike.

Reik Huskic, a doctor at Belgrade's Clinical-Hospital Center, said a group of doctors is satisfied with Nikolic's condition and the therapy being undertaken.

"The patient is under complete medical control and it will remain like that as long as he decides to continue not taking water and food or otherwise," Huskic said. "That's his personal will and doctors don't have any influence on that."

Nikolic said on April 19 that he was ready to go "as far as is necessary to make Serbia a normal country."

Belgrade-based political analyst Vladimir Gligorov told RFE/RL on the same day that a radicalization of the political scene in Serbia could slow down European integration.

"We have to see how the [Serbian] Progressive Party will resolve the problem they have gotten themselves into," Gligorov said.