Bicycle protesters back to urge govt to deliver
The main protagonists of a series of anti-government protests on bicycles that went on for 105 consecutive Fridays under the previous government took to the streets again one year into the new government's term to remind it of the promises made but not kept.
Organised by the Voice of the People, an initiative bringing together more than 100 NGOs and several thousand individuals, the 1 June protest filed past the government building in what they described as a symbolic warning.
"We felt it was necessary to remind the government of the 122 commitments it made to us ... We hope we can stick to symbolic campaigns and we won't have to organise mass cycling again," said Jaša Jenull, the figurehead of the 2020-2022 protests.
Another member of the initiative, Brankica Petković from the Peace Institute, said there had been promising progress in many areas. The government is working on roughly half of the commitments, and one out of ten has been partly met.
A total of nine commitments have been fully delivered on, including the promise to redress the damaging consequences of the Covid-19 legislation and to pass a law to protect whistleblowers.
However, the group is disappointed about lack of progress on commitments the government was supposed to honour in the first year of its term, foremost health reform, where the situation is not improving but getting worse, they said.
The group is also critical of the way the government often makes decisions without consulting the public or relevant stakeholders.
Receiving the protesters, Kaja Širok, a state secretary at the prime minister's office, accepted a list of commitments that are yet to be honoured.
The cyclists then visited several ministries to hand their representatives lists of unfulfilled promises under their remit, along with "handy calendars" to monitor how much time they have left to deliver on what they promised.
The government dismissed the criticism, arguing it had initially focused on tackling the impact of the Covid epidemic and measures to address price hikes, but now healthcare remained a priority.
Problems that have accumulated over the past 30 years cannot be solved overnight, the government said, adding that it was busy in other areas too. It said the ruling coalition had resumed dialogue with social partners and civil society.