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Friday, 14 April, 2000, 21:43 GMT 22:43 UK
Analysis: Opposition's elusive unity
Draskovic and Djindjic
Zoran Djindjic (left) and Vuc Draskovic find it hard to work together
By the BBC's Jon Leyne

Today's opposition rally in Belgrade is the biggest in months. It is the first occasion for some time that the main opposition leaders have joined together on the platform.

But there is still little optimism in Serbia that the opposition can overcome its divisions and topple the government of President Milosevic.

During the last decade, President Milosevic has led his country to defeat in a succession of wars, international isolation and national penury. The fact that he is still in office is a tribute to his political guile, and the desperate weakness of the opposition.


Demonstration
It's the largest opposition rally in months
So anyone watching this latest rally in Belgrade may be forgiven for thinking they have seen it all before.

The new display of unity by the opposition could prove just as elusive as it has many times before.

The two main opposition leaders are Vuk Draskovic of the Serbian Renewal Movement, and Zoran Djindjic of the Democratic Party.

In 1996 they co-operated to lead a series of massive demonstrations that eventually forced President Milosevic to accept the opposition victory in local government elections.

For a while Mr Milosevic appeared seriously threatened. But since then, the two opposition leaders have developed a deep and mutual hatred.

Vuk Draskovic pointedly undermined a serious of rallies led by Zoran Djindjic following the loss of Kosovo last year. The rallies eventually fizzled out.


Slobodan Milosevic
President Milosevic is as secure in office as ever
Each leader is already seriously compromised -- Mr Draskovic for co-operating with the government, Mr Djindjic for staying in Montenegro through most of the NATO bombing.

They cannot agree whether they want early elections, or the immediate resignation of President Milosevic -- neither of which is likely to happen in any case. Even the details of this latest rally proved extremely difficult to hammer out.

The division deeply frustrates the West, and those people in Serbia who've seen their living standards collapse in recent years, many of whom have given up hope of forcing change.

President Milosevic, meanwhile, is as secure in office as ever.

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See also:

13 Apr 00 | Europe
Serb media defies government
18 Mar 00 | Europe
Serbia clamps down on media
11 Jan 00 | Europe
Serbian opposition unites
21 Nov 99 | Europe
Serb demos to continue
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