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Serbia Nationalist Opposition Holds Anti-Government Rally


People waving Serbian flags crowd a square in front of the General Assembly building during an anti-government rally in Belgrade, February 5, 2011

People waving Serbian flags crowd a square in front of the General Assembly building during an anti-government rally in Belgrade, February 5, 2011

Tens of thousands of Serbian opposition supporters have rallied against the government, calling for early elections and economic reforms.

The protest was organized by Serbian Progressive Party leader Tomislav Nikolic who addressed the crowd in front of the parliament building in the capital, Belgrade.

Serbian police estimate at least 55,000 people gathered for the rally. Other witnesses say the crowd was closer to 70,000.

Nikolic called for higher wages and an end to government corruption. He referenced recent street protests in Tunisia and Egypt, saying governments around the world are learning they need to listen to the people.

Parliamentary elections are scheduled for 2012 in Serbia but the opposition wants them held sooner.

Nikolic's nationalist opposition party has been gaining in popularity in recent months as Serbia struggles to recover from the global economic recession.

Rising prices, unemployment and poverty has led to discontent with Serbia's pro-European Union government.

Police say the rally has been mostly peaceful though a few protesters have had to be detained.

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