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Thursday, 7 September, 2000, 22:55 GMT 23:55 UK
Milosevic quizzed on rival's abduction
Mr Milosevic
Opposition leaders blame Mr Milosevic for the abduction
Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic has been asked about the disappearance of a potential political rival by the former Macedonian president, Kiro Gligorov, according to Yugoslav media reports.

The two had a telephone conversation about Ivan Stambolic, a former Serbian president, the independent daily Danas reported, quoting Mr Gligorov's office.

Stambolic (left) and Milosevic were once allies
Stambolic (left) and Milosevic were once allies
Mr Stambolic vanished while jogging near his Belgrade home on 25 August shortly before nominations closed for the presidential elections, due later this month.

Some reports said witnesses saw him bundled into a van at gunpoint.

There has been a string of assassinations this year of prominent figures in Serbia.

In June, Serbian opposition leader Vuk Draskovic accused Mr Milosevic of trying to kill him when gunmen fired at his house.

Accusations

Opposition parties and Mr Stambolic's lawyer have pointed fingers at Mr Milosevic for the abduction.

Opposition leader Mr Draskovic
Draskovic was wounded in an assassination attempt
His name had been mentioned as a possible candidate to run against Mr Milosevic in the election.

Mr Gligorov asked the Yugoslav president "how the investigation was progressing and if there was hope the case would soon be solved," Danas reported.

"Milosevic mainly spoke about how difficult the investigation was because the family had been late in notifying the police," it added.

He said in the six-hour delay, Mr Stambolic could have been taken over the border.

Wife denies delay

However, Mr Stambolic's wife, Katarina, denied there had been a delay on Wednesday.

She said she had called Mr Milosevic immediately after her husband disappeared.

Mr Stambolic, 63, rose up the ranks of Serbia's Communist Party in the 1970s.

He became Serbian president in 1980 and started to promote Mr Milosevic.

However, relations cooled as Mr Milosevic drifted towards nationalism.

In 1987, as Mr Stambolic grew critical of his former protege, he was ousted as head of Serbia's Communist Party in a coup engineered by Mr Milosevic.

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