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Serbia’s PM Ana Brnabic says she is willing to resign amid opposition protests

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BELGRADE (Reuters) – Serbia’s Prime Minister Ana Brnabic said on Wednesday she was willing to resign to test popularity of the ruling coalition, following weeks of opposition protests.

For five consecutive weeks, tens of thousands of people have gathered for weekly anti-government rallies in Belgrade, blaming a culture of violence for the deaths of 18 people in two mass shootings in May.

Protesters demand resignations of government officials and a ban of violent reality shows, and a fresh rally is scheduled for Friday.

Brnabic said her government, dominated by the ruling Serbian Progressive Party (SNS) was ready to meet the opposition and discuss how to improve the situation.

“When the society is in a crisis, talks are the only way … and they do not want to talk. I am ready and you may count on my resignation,” she told a news conference in Belgrade.

The opposition leaders have said they would meet the government once all their requests including dismissal of the interior minister and secret service chief are met.

Brnabic said she favours an early election by year’s end, but left the decision to President Aleksandar Vucic.

Vucic said he and the government remain ready for talks with the opposition, but if their initiative fails, elections may be expected by year’s end.

“We believe we will find interlocutors. If not, we will go for elections, … (we will have to) dissolve the parliament, because there are (legal) deadlines,” he said.

(Reporting by Aleksandar Vasovic; Editing by Daniel Wallis)

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