SERBIA: Aleksandar Vucic, the president of Serbia, resigned as the leader of the nation’s ruling Serbian Progressive Party (SNS) at a party congress on Saturday, saying a fresh approach was required to unite the nation but that he would continue to serve as the country’s head of State.
The move occurred a day after tens of thousands of Serbians, and residents of the surrounding states of Kosovo, Montenegro, and Bosnia gathered in Belgrade’s centre to show their support for Vucic in the wake of significant anti-government demonstrations following two mass shootings that claimed the lives of 18 people earlier this month.
Later on Saturday, a different anti-government demonstration is scheduled. At the SNS party conference in Kragujevac, central Serbia, the party’s leaders accepted Vucic’s request to resign, and they replaced him with Milos Vucevic, the defence minister, as Vucic had suggested.
Vucic said to the Congress that he believes “a somewhat different approach is required to unify a larger number of those who wish to fight for patriotic Serbia’s victory… a successful Serbia that will focus on its citizens, for a country that will not seek grounds for division but for union and togetherness.”
Vucic and the SNS have long been accused of dictatorship, restricting media freedoms, using violence against political opponents, being corrupt, and having ties to organised crime by opposition parties and human rights watchdogs.
The claims are refuted by Vucic and his allies. Vucic assured the legislature that he would continue to serve as head of State and as a party member. He declared to jubilant delegates, “I will never leave this party; I am proud to have led the best party all these years.”
Following his appointment, Vucevic confirmed that the SNS would join the political umbrella group he intends to establish on June 28. “If Vucic is the locomotive of that movement, the first railcar would be the SNS,” Vucevic remarked to reporters.
In March, Vucic declared a new movement for the SNS and its allies, officially known as the People’s Movement for the State.
In 2012, Vucic became president of the SNS, replacing Tomislav Nikolic, who had served as the SNS’s president since the party’s formation as an outgrowth of the ultranationalist Serbian Radical Party in 2008.
He held the positions of deputy and prime minister before winning the presidential elections in 2017 and 2022. In 2027, his second and last term will come to an end. In the 250-member parliament, the SNS and its partners control 164 seats, holding a majority.
During the 1990s wars, Vucic was a nationalist firebrand who finally adopted pro-European policies, declaring Serbia’s membership in the EU to be its strategic goal. He also maintains close ties with China and Russia.