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Jacky Rowland reports from Belgrade
"The opposition stage has started to look a sorry sight"
 real 28k

Saturday, 20 November, 1999, 20:11 GMT
Serb opposition rallies fizzle out
Ugly scenes at one demonstration

The Serbian opposition is holding its last daily protest in central Belgrade, in a tacit admission that the demonstrations have failed to shake the rule of President Slobodan Milosevic.

Four days ago, the opposition coalition Alliance for Change said it was cutting back on its daily protests, which demanded president's resignation and fair elections.

Early protests against Serbian Prime Minister Mirko Marjanovic
The Alliance co-ordinator Vladan Batic said that while there would be a rally somewhere in Serbia every day, it did not have the money or the physical ability to mount them more widely.

Turnout dwindles

For the past two months, demonstrations have taken place on Republic Square but even in the early days, these failed to attract more than 30,000 people.

Turnout has dwindled in recent weeks and Mr Batic said the Alliance would now concentrate more on the idea of an interim government which would prepare the country for elections.

The Belgrade-based Democratic Party said that the opposition would present its transitional government at the rally on Saturday evening.

Early elections

The party, which has spearheaded the rallies in Belgrade, says this government will be headed by former Yugoslav bank governor Dragoslav Avramovic.

Vuk Draskovic's party has refused to join the demonstrations
In April, the Alliance for Change and the largest opposition party, the Serbian Renewal Movement (SPO), signed an agreement calling for elections within three months.

A deal was signed between the two parties on conditions for holding fair elections.

Firebomb attack

But the SPO, headed by opposition veteran Vuk Draskovic, has refused to join the daily demonstrations against Mr Milosevic.

Correspondents say this has contributed to the dwindling support for the Belgrade rallies.

They say that although many people in the country want change, they do not trust the opposition to implement it.

The protests have been nowhere near as big as the major pro-democracy rallies three years ago.

Also on Saturday, a firebomb damaged a local office of the Democratic Party, prompting its officials to brand it as intimidation.

"The attack was apparently done by a professional, inspired by the current regime, which has been trying to intimidate our party," Zoran Zivkovic, a top party official, told The Associated Press news agency.

The attack took place in Nis, the country's third-largest city 200 km (125 miles) southeast of Belgrade.

The opposition-run city has been earmarked to receive heating oil from the European Union-sponsored "Energy for Democracy" programme aimed to help the Serbian opposition in its struggle against Mr Milosevic.

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See also:
03 Oct 99 |  Europe
Police confront Belgrade marchers
02 Oct 99 |  Europe
Crackdown on Serbian opposition
09 Nov 99 |  Europe
Serb police clash with demonstrators
11 Oct 99 |  Europe
EU backs Serbian opposition
14 Oct 99 |  Europe
Serbian opposition settle differences

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