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Serbian president-elect accused of poll fraud

Belgrade (AFP) – Serbian president-elect Aleksandar Vucic’s main poll rival accused the former premier Sunday of “scandalous irregularities” in the election which handed him victory earlier this month.

Centre-left candidate Sasa Jankovic, who garnered 16 percent in the April 2 first-round poll compared to 55 percent for Vucic, called for a partial recount.

Thousands of demonstrators, mostly students, have gathered daily in Belgrade and other cities to protest Vucic’s election, but this is the first time one of his rivals has alleged poll irregularities.

Jankovic’s office said a recount of 25 bags of polling cards, carried out Friday at the request of the independent candidate, showed that Vucic had been awarded 964 more votes than were actually counted.

“The irregularities we found in favour (of Vucic) are scandalous,” it said in a statement.

Jankovic’s team added that the average difference per polling station between the number of votes officially attributed to Vucic and the actual number counted was 38.

“If this average figure, based on a random sample, were multiplied by the number of all the 8,396 polling stations, it would produce a sinister conclusion: Aleksandar Vucic potentially stole 319,000 votes,” the statement said.

Centre-right politician Vucic, a former ultranationalist turned pro-European, won in the first round by garnering more than 50 percent of votes, way ahead of the 10 other candidates.

After the results were announced, Vucic, who was elected prime minister in 2014, trumpeted his “clear” victory in winning 12 percent more votes than all the other candidates combined.

On Sunday he dismissed the “ridiculous mathematics” of his opponent.

“When politicians in Serbia fail, with their programmes and plans, to gain the people’s confidence, they resort to the most callous lies,” he told a press conference.

The electoral commission also rejected Jankovic’s accusations, calling them “absolutely unacceptable”.

The commission’s head Vladimir Dimitrijevic said that contested votes had been recounted and that only four irregular ballots had been identified, and these could be attributed to a “technical error”.

He accused “certain candidates” of peddling “absolute lies”.

On Saturday an estimated 10,000 protesters gathered in Belgrade. Jankovic said the crowds were unhappy with the “injustice of the autocratic regime which threatens Serbia with dictatorship”.


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