Turmoil continues within ranks of opposition Democrats

PIROT -- Some 40 members of the Democratic Party (DS) in Pirot, southern Serbia, decided to leave and join former DS official and minister Dušan Petrović.

(Tanjug, file)
(Tanjug, file)

Petrović was expelled from the party for refusing to resign as MP when the new DS leadership decided all it former members who served as cabinet minister should do so. He is currently in the process of forming his own party.

Milan Ilić, who now serves as chairman of a committee to set up the new party's branch in Pirot, told a news conference that former president and vice president of the DS municipal board, former councilors, members of the board, and members of the party's youth were all among the defectors.

Ilić described the policy of the new leadership of the Democrats, headed by Belgrade Mayor Dragan Đilas, as "revanchist", and said this was the reason Petrović had decided to form a new party.

"In this idea about an essential decentralization of Serbia, we found an idea not only for a better Serbia, but for a better Pirot," said he.

On the other hand, Pirot District chief Goran Stamenković - who was until recently vice-president of the DS board in Pirot - told Beta news agency that the party's former members who left its ranks did not include anyone from the board that was dissolved in January.

"There are no councilors among them. Those who have exited the DS have for a long time been unsupportive of the policy of the local DS leadership. I wish them luck," said Stamenković, and claimed that their number was lower than what had been announced.

Earlier on Friday, the DS denied that its members in the Braničevo District had formed "a committee to leave the party", saying that "most of the members of that committee have not been party members for a while".

But reports in recent days revealed that more members of local DS boards were leaving the party, including in Šabac, Stara Pazova, Dimitrovgrad, Sremska Mitrovica, and Kruševac.