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Monday, 10 January, 2000, 07:32 GMT
Serbian opposition to demand elections

Zoran Djindjic Protests led by Djindjic [left] failed to attract support


By Jacky Rowland in Belgrade

The main opposition parties in Serbia are holding their first meeting of the year in an effort to decide on a campaign for early elections.

The talks have been called by the leader of the largest opposition party, Vuk Draskovic, who has declared his intention of taking the leading role in the opposition movement.

Anti-government protests last year led by his old rival, Zoran Djindjic failed to attract public support.


Vuk Draskovic Vuk Draskovic intends to lead the opposition

So now Mr Draskovic is trying to bring opposition parties together in their efforts to remove President Slobodan Milosevic.

Most of the main figures in the opposition movement are attending his meeting where he will put forward his party's blueprint for political change in Serbia.

Elections

The principle demand is for presidential, parliamentary and local elections to be held by the end of April.

After that Mr Draskovic would campaign for international sanctions against Serbia to be lifted and for the country to join the stability pact for south-east Europe.

The manifesto includes promises to respect the Bosnian peace agreement and to provide equal treatment for all ethnic groups in Kosovo.

Most Serbian opposition parties would support these aims but disagreements are inevitable due to the personal rivalries between various politicians.

In particular Mr Djindjic and his allies have vowed to resist any attempts by Mr Draskovic to dominate the opposition movement.

Allegations

The authorities are preparing to withstand this latest challenge from the opposition.

A spokesman for the ruling party said there would only be local elections in Serbia this year.

He repeated allegations that the opposition received funding and orders from Nato.

At the same time, the government has made a new attempt to discredit Mr Draskovic by alleging he had contact with the French Secret Service.

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See also:
26 Dec 99 |  Europe
Serbian opposition plans election protest
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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