Councilors vote to remove Belgrade mayor from office
BELGRADE -- After a debate that lasted more than five hours, councilors of the City Assembly of Belgrade on Tuesday voted to remove Mayor Dragan Đilas from office.
60 members of the assembly voted in favor of the no-confidence motion, with no votes against, as members from Đilas' Democratic Party (DS) chose not to vote.
106 out of 110 councilors attended the session today.
The initiative for the mayor's sacking was filed on Monday by the Serb Progressives (SNS) and the Democratic Party of Serbia (DSS).
During the day yesterday, these opposition parties on the city-level gained the support of the Socialists (SPS) and the Pensioners (PUPS) - Đilas' coalition partners.
Head of the SNS group in the assembly Aleksandar Jovičić addressed the session today to say that "the atmosphere among Belgraders was so heated" that the change of the city government was "necessary."
He mentioned early local elections held in the municipality of Zemun, where Đilas' Democrats (DS) won about eight percent of the vote as proof that the party had lost its legitimacy in the capital.
DSS councilor Nebojša Bakarec mentioned a project to build a metro transit system in Belgrade as one of the reasons his party demanded the dismissal of Đilas.
DS councilor Božidar Đelić, however, said the parties in opposition in Belgrade - the SNS and the DSS - were "deceiving the public with imaginary figures," and accused them of introducing "a state of emergency" by removing Đilas.
Đelić was stated that he expected Đilas to win in the next elections, and added that the Pensioners were "blackmailed" into supporting the initiative today.
SPS councilor Nikola Prelević said that the Socialists would vote in favor of sacking the mayor "because that is a rational decision, in the interest of the residents of Belgrade."
"It is necessary for the authorities in Belgrade and in the Republic (state-level) to be identical, because there is no good cooperation when the authorities in the city and in the Republic are two competitors," he was quoted as saying.
The SPS - which is allied with the Progressives (SNS) on the state level - is in favor of spring local elections in Belgrade, this official revealed.
Earlier in the day, Dragan Đilas addressed reporters to say that his removal had to do with "a political deal," rather than with poor results of his administration.
Addressing the City Assembly session today before the voting, Đilas said he was proud of his achievements as mayor, and accused those in favor of his dismissal of "altering the election will of the citizens."
By voting in favor of the no-confidence motion against the mayor the councilors today also brought down the city government in Belgrade. The current assembly now has 30 days to elect a new mayor.
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