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Wednesday, 6 November, 2002, 15:52 GMT
December rerun for Serbia's failed poll
Almost empty ballot box in Bujanovac
The first election ended in apathetic failure
Serbia's presidential election - which failed to muster enough votes at the first attempt - is being re-run on 8 December, officials have announced.

The original second-round poll on 13 October failed to attract the 50% turnout required under Serbian law - a requirement scrapped by parliament this week.

Yugoslav President Vojislav Kostunica, who easily won the biggest share of the vote, tried to have the result declared valid in a court case, but failed.

He and his chief rival, Miroljub Labus, have not yet said whether they will enter the race again.

Vojislav Kostunica
Kostunica claimed to have won, but lost court case
Hardline nationalist Vojislav Seselj - who took 23% of the first-round votes in the original election - has announced he will run again. Analysts say he is hoping to do even better this time.

The December date was announced by the head of Serbia's parliament, Natasa Micic.

Candidates have until 17 November to register.

The announcement came one day after parliament dropped the 50% rule for second-round votes, leaving it in place only for the first round in future elections.

Current Serbian President Milan Milutinovic finishes his term in early January. He is expected to then be handed over to the UN war crimes tribunal in The Hague to answer charges over the Kosovo conflict in 1998-99.

Rule attacked

The 50% rule - introduced by ousted leader Slobodan Milosevic - was attacked after the October poll failure by the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), which monitored the elections.

The OSCE said the law allowed minor parties to call on their supporters to boycott elections, which undermined voter confidence.

The low turnout was blamed on disillusionment among Serbia's voters - who took to the streets in their thousands to oust Mr Milosevic, but were thought to have become disappointed with his successors' descent into political bickering.

The election also highlighted the bitter power-struggles between different Serbian factions.

Mr Kostunica is strongly opposed by current Serbian Prime Minister Zoran Djindjic, who backed Mr Labus in the failed poll.

Mr Kostunica accused Mr Djindjic of helping keep turnout low by failing to update electoral registers, keeping tens of thousands of people from voting.

See also:

14 Oct 02 | Europe
30 Sep 02 | Europe
27 Sep 02 | Media reports
09 Aug 02 | Europe
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