Sunday, February 06, 2011
"This government was promising us milk and honey in 2008 and what do we have now? More hardship, and a dishonest and arrogant government which does not care about its own people," said Zdravka Stanojlovic, 44, a Belgrade waitress.
The rally was organised by Tomislav Nikolic, head of the Serbian Progressive Party, the most influential opposition party shown in polls as offering a strong challenge to the current ruling Serbian Democratic Party.
"Elsewhere in the world people are telling governments they should listen to the people," Nikolic said in reference to Egypt and other recent anti-government protests.
"I know you are disenchanted and bitter over this dishonest government which is tormenting you. Let us torment government instead."
Police estimated that 70,000 attended the rally, an event one security official described as peaceful, although a few people were detained for drunken disorderliness.
"I was not a Nikolic voter in the past but now I am so disillusioned because of unfulfilled promises, poverty, corruption and hardship," said Dragomir Djuric, 56, a metal worker, who had travelled to Belgrade from Kragujevac.
Protestors, some of whom arrived by bus from cities across Serbia, gathered in front of the national parliament holding banners including: "Democratic Party, time to go" and "We are hungry." Police closed off parts of central Belgrade to accommodate the demonstration under sunny skies and a break in recent bitter winter cold.