Thousands of people have gathered for a protest rally against Serbia’s populist President Aleksandar Vucic. Authorities deployed riot police inside the parliament, saying they wanted to prevent the opposition from storming the building.

The protest Saturday in central Belgrade, the capital, comes after months of anti-government demonstrations accusing Vucic of being autocratic and demanding that his government allow more democracy and media freedom in the Balkan country.

Tensions have mounted ahead of Saturday’s rally, as pro-government media and officials alleged the opposition wants to storm the state institutions and take over power by force. Opposition leaders say the authorities have sought to prevent their supporters from coming into Belgrade for the rally.

A protestor woman shouts slogans dueing a protest against populist president Aleksandar Vucic in Belgrade, Serbia, Saturday, April 13, 2019. (AP Photo/Darko Vojinovic)
A protestor woman shouts slogans dueing a protest against populist president Aleksandar Vucic in Belgrade, Serbia, Saturday, April 13, 2019. (AP Photo/Darko Vojinovic)

The anti-government protests started after masked thugs beat up an opposition politician last November. Vucic denies accusations that he’s an autocrat.

A protestor woman stands in front of a Serbia flag takes part in a protest against populist president Aleksandar Vucic in Belgrade, Serbia, Saturday, April 13, 2019. (AP Photo/Darko Vojinovic)
A protestor woman stands in front of a Serbia flag takes part in a protest against populist president Aleksandar Vucic in Belgrade, Serbia, Saturday, April 13, 2019. (AP Photo/Darko Vojinovic)
A protestor woman waves a Serbia flag during a protest against populist president Aleksandar Vucic in Belgrade, Serbia, Saturday, April 13, 2019. (AP Photo/Darko Vojinovic)
A protestor woman waves a Serbia flag during a protest against populist president Aleksandar Vucic in Belgrade, Serbia, Saturday, April 13, 2019. (AP Photo/Darko Vojinovic)
Protesters hold up lettering
Protesters hold up lettering “Resignations” as they stand in front of the parliament during a protest against populist president Aleksandar Vucic in Belgrade, Serbia, Saturday, April 13, 2019. (AP Photo/Darko Vojinovic)
Protesters gathering in front oh the parliament during a protest against populist president Aleksandar Vucic in Belgrade, Serbia, Saturday, April 13, 2019. (AP Photo/Darko Vojinovic)
Protesters gathering in front oh the parliament during a protest against populist president Aleksandar Vucic in Belgrade, Serbia, Saturday, April 13, 2019. (AP Photo/Darko Vojinovic)

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