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Saturday, May 22, 1999 Published at 07:16 GMT 08:16 UK

World: Europe

Anti-Yugoslav protest in Montenegro

Open opposition to the Yugoslav troop presence in Montenegro

By South-East Europe analyst Gabriel Partos

More than 1,000 inhabitants of the town of Cetinje, in the Yugoslav republic of Montenegro, have demonstrated against the presence of Yugoslav army reinforcements recently deployed in the area.

Kosovo: Special Report
The protest was the first of its kind in Montenegro since Nato launched its campaign of air strikes against Yugoslavia two months ago.

Many inhabitants of the town - which is Montenegro's former capital - believe the troop presence is designed to intimidate the local population.

Pro-independence stronghold

Local officials say Cetinje - a stronghold of Montenegro's pro-independence activists - is in practical terms under siege from the Serb-dominated Yugoslav army.

But Montenegrin hostility to the Yugoslav armed forces goes beyond the boundaries of Cetinje. This is mainly because the military are seen as serving the interests of the Serbian leadership and not those of Montenegro.

Last month, several hundred dockworkers in the port of Bar protested against the presence of the Yugoslav navy in their port.

Naval blockade

Since then, the navy has imposed a partial blockade on Montenegro's ports. The army has also stepped up its controls along Montenegro's borders.

[ image: Opposing the war: Milo Djukanovic]
Opposing the war: Milo Djukanovic
These measures prompted Montenegro's pro-Western President Milo Djukanovic to renew his criticism of the Yugoslav army.

He has accused army commanders of putting pressure on Montenegro on the instructions of the Yugoslav President, Slobodan Milosevic.

Mr Djukanovic has opposed Serbia's war against the Kosovo Albanians, and the majority of Montenegro's population is behind him.

Meanwhile, in Serbia itself, this week has seen the first protests against military service in Kosovo.

Women against war

In the course of these demonstrations, angry mothers and wives of reservists from the towns of Krusevac, Aleksandrovac and Cacak demanded that local reservists should be allowed to return home.

These demonstrations coincided with the first reports of apparent mass desertions from within the Yugoslav army.

Public opposition within Serbia to the war in Kosovo remains on a small scale.

But as President Milosevic faces up to Nato's continuing campaign of air strikes, he is also having to deal with more and more signs of trouble on the home front.

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