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Monday, 18 November, 2002, 22:32 GMT
Nationalists line up for Serb presidency
Kostunica supporters carry 18,000 signatures supporting his candidacy
Kostunica won the last election, but turnout was too low
The Yugoslav president, Vojislav Kostunica, will face two hardline Serb nationalists in the 8 December elections for the Serbian presidency.

Vojislav Seselj in front of the Serb nationalist symbol, the double-headed eagle
Seselj counts Slobodan Milosevic among his supporters
The announcement follows the lapse of a weekend deadline for candidates to put their names forward.

The vote will be Serbia's second attempt to elect a president after a ballot last month, won by Mr Kostunica, was declared void due to low turnout.

Mr Kostunica, a moderate nationalist, will run against the Serbian Radical Party candidate, Vojislav Seselj, and the head of the Serbian Unity Party, Borislav Pelevic.

Vojislav Seselj - Mr Kostunica's biggest rival - has been given official backing by the Socialist Party of the former Yugoslav President, Slobodan Milosevic.

Mr Pelevic's Serbian Unity Party was founded by the late Serbian warlord Arkan, whose paramilitary forces fought in the Bosnian and Croatian wars.

Averting deadlock

In order to avoid another invalid poll, Serbia's parliament has voted to drop legislation requiring a turnout of 50% or more.

However, the requirement will remain in place for future first rounds.

Under Serbian law the vote must go ahead by 8 December, a month before the term of the current president, Milan Milutinovic, expires.

"It is our obligation to make these elections work so that we can continue with efforts to join Europe's mainstream," Mr Kostunica said after announcing his candidacy.

Some have expressed fears that disillusioned Serbs will fail to turn up at the polls in numbers so soon after the last election attempt.

Serbia's governing liberal coalition, which is opposed to Mr Kostunica, has not fielded its own candidate.

See also:

11 Oct 02 | Europe
27 Oct 02 | Europe
23 Oct 02 | Country profiles
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