Serbian president urges end to opposition leader's hunger strike

11:05, April 18, 2011      

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Serbian Progressive Party (SNS) leader Tomislav Nikolic and his wife Dragica Nikolic are seen during his hunger strike for the second day at the party offices in the Serbian Parliament building in Belgrade, Serbia, on April 17, 2011. Serbian President Boris Tadic on Sunday urged Tomislav Nikolic to end a hunger strike, but refused to meet the latter's conditions of dissolving parliament and calling new elections, reported the Serbian news agency Tanjug. (Xinhua Photo)

Serbian President Boris Tadic on Sunday urged Tomislav Nikolic, an opposition leader from the Serbian Progressive Party (SNS), to end a hunger strike, but refused to meet the latter's conditions of dissolving parliament and calling new elections, reported the Serbian news agency Tanjug.

Nikolic, who announced his hunger strike on Saturday during a mass opposition rally, said he would remain in the National Assembly in Belgrade until Tadic announced early elections. Tadic met with Nikolic in private for over an hour on Sunday.

Nikolic's political party, the SNS, has enjoyed a popularity surge in Serbia in recent months, largely buoyed by rising resentment toward the government for its austerity program and harsh economic conditions.

After the meeting, Tadic said succumbing to Nikolic's demands would be equal to agreeing to a form of "extortion."

"My request is to end the hunger strike because he is not a private person but a person who represents the public interest," said Tadic. "I respect personal behavior and rights, but my request -- and he knows that -- is not to set a precedent in public behavior that could lead us astray."

Since Nikolic began his hunger strike, opposition members from Nis and Valjevo, two southern and central Serbian cities, have reportedly announced hunger strikes in solidarity with him.

Tadic repeated his position that elections in Serbia would be announced after the country achieves candidate status for the European Union. The current government's mandate expires in May 2012.

Source: Xinhua
 
 
     
 
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