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Last Updated: Sunday, 16 November, 2003, 21:03 GMT
'Third failure' for Serbia poll
Presidential candidate Dragoljub Micunovic
Micunovic appealed for a "stable" Serbia
Serbia has failed to elect a president for the third time in just over a year because of low turnout, exit polls suggest.

Independent observers say just over 38% of the electorate voted, well short of the 50% needed to make the poll valid.

Unofficial results indicate nationalist Tomislav Nikolic leads the field, in a vote boycotted by the main opposition.

Government candidate Dragoljub Micunovic appears to have been pushed into second.

Correspondents say the outcome is a setback for the ruling pro-Western coalition as it seeks a mandate for reform at December's parliamentary elections.

Boycott

Two main opposition parties are claiming the election is irrelevant, while many people have become disillusioned after a spate of well publicised scandals involving members of the government, our correspondent says.

To make it even harder to achieve the necessary turnout, it is believed half a million potential voters live abroad and could have only cast their ballots if they returned home.

With a general election having just been announced for 28 December, many people may be waiting until then before giving their verdict on the country's politicians.

If one of the candidates is elected he will be the first democratically elected president of Serbia since the fall of Slobodan Milosevic's regime in what was then Yugoslavia in October 2000.

The reformist government of Prime Minister Zoran Zivkovic has been struggling since the assassination of former premier Zoran Djindjic by a sniper in Belgrade on 12 March.


WATCH AND LISTEN
The BBC's Nick Hawton
"Once again Serbia failed to elect a president"



SEE ALSO:
Serbs repeat presidental poll
14 Nov 03  |  Europe
Serbia sets early election date
17 Sep 03  |  Europe
Election call in Serbia crisis
10 Sep 03  |  Europe
Serbia remembers Djindjic
07 Sep 03  |  Europe
Djindjic leaves political vacuum
12 Mar 03  |  Europe
Who killed Djindjic?
13 Mar 03  |  Europe
Country profile: Serbia and Montenegro
23 Jul 03  |  Country profiles
Timeline: After Milosevic
13 Jul 03  |  Country profiles


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