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Sunday, 26 December, 1999, 23:18 GMT
Serbian opposition plans election protest

student demo in Belgrade Student groups support the demand for free and fair elections

Serbia's largest opposition party, the Serbian Renewal Movement (SPO), has said it is preparing to launch a campaign of street protests to demand early elections.

"We have decided not to wait anymore" one of the party's leaders, Aleksandar Coctric, is quoted as saying at an SPO meeting in the western Serbian town of Loznica.

He said talks with the Serbian Government about bringing forward the elections, which are scheduled for late 2001, were proving fruitless, and called on supporters to "win early elections on the streets".

Vuk Draskovic Vuk Draskovic is emerging as the main player in the opposition movement
The party, led by chairman Vuk Draskovic, has until now avoided joining the wave of protests launched by the opposition Alliance for Change group.

Instead, it has insisted that Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic could only be ousted through an early and fair ballot which it demanded from the Serbian parliament last month.

President Milosevic's ruling Socialist Party is reported to have agreed to "talk about election issues" but the SPO says there has been no genuine dialogue.

No opposition coalition

The SPO has also stated that it will not join forces with other opposition parties in Yugoslavia in the next election, according to party spokesman Ivan Kovacevic.

"We have learnt from experience that whenever we go as a united front, we get less votes than when the parties run on their own" he said in an interview on Palma Plus television on Saturday.

Serbian opposition parties have been bitterly divided and fragile so far, and have failed to unite on methods to depose President Milosevic.

Despite rejecting a united election list however the SPO chairman Mr Draskovic will soon invite the opposition leaders to discuss a "strategy of further steps to be taken" Mr Kovacevic is reported to have told Belgrade-based Radio B2-92.

The Alliance for Change party has insisted that Mr Milosevic resign ahead of early elections.

They held anti-government demonstrations for 89 consecutive nights but have now put them on hold until mid-January due to steadily dwindling turnouts

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See also:
19 Dec 99 |  Europe
Milosevic opponents call off rallies
01 Oct 99 |  Europe
Analysis: Can Serbia's opposition unite?
25 Dec 99 |  Europe
Serbian opposition leader may resign
20 Nov 99 |  Europe
Serb opposition rallies fizzle out
02 Oct 99 |  Europe
Police confront Belgrade marchers
01 Oct 99 |  Europe
Milosevic guard stepped up

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