Hundreds rally in Belgrade to protest over election win for Vucic

BELGRADE (Reuters) - Hundreds of people rallied peacefully for a second night in Belgrade on Tuesday to protest against the overwhelming victory of Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic in a presidential election.

FILE PHOTO: Serbian Prime Minister and presidential candidate Aleksandar Vucic speaks after his win in presidential election at his headquarters in Belgrade, Serbia, April 2, 2017. REUTERS/Antonio Bronic

Protesters gathered in front of the Serbian parliament, following announcements on social media, chanting “No to dictatorship” and blowing whistles.

“What we want is Vucic to step down, he is an autocrat and we do not want him,” said Nemanja Tomic, 22, a student. Some demonstrators alleged Sunday’s presidential vote was rigged.

The protesters did not set any specific demands. Similar protests have been staged in several towns throughout Serbia.

Vucic, 47, took a decisive 55.02 percent of votes in the election, confirming his domination over the Balkan country as he pursues a balancing act between Europe and Russia.

His new job will be largely ceremonial, but he is expected to retain de facto power through control of his ruling Serbian Progressive Party.

The election result came as a humiliation for the beleaguered opposition.

Sasa Jankovic, the main opposition candidate and former rights advocate, came second with only 16.36 percent of votes.

Twenty-five-year-old student Luka Maksimovic, who ran as a white-suited parody of a sleazy imaginary politician called Ljubisa “Beli” Preletacevic, came third with 9.43 percent.

Both Jankovic and Maksimovic have expressed support for the protests but have not joined them.

Vucic has repeatedly said his change of job will not alter the former Yugoslav republic’s geopolitical balance between the European Union, which Serbia wants to join, and Russia, with which Serbs share their Orthodox Christian faith and Slavic heritage.

Reporting by Aleksandar Vasovic; Editing by Andrew Roche