Foreign Agencies on December 17th, 1996

Milosevic promises to uphold election law

[Picture: students]

December 17, 1996
Web posted at: 7:00 p.m. EST (0000 GMT)
From Correspondent Peter Arnett

BELGRADE (CNN) -- A score of students arrived to a hero's welcome in Belgrade Tuesday, their feet blistered but in high spirits at the completion of their 150-mile, 48-hour march from the southern city of Nis.

The students, marching to demand democracy in Serbia, were joined in the final stretch by hundreds of other Serbians who have been demonstrating daily in Belgrade with similar demands that the government reinstate opposition election victories.

[Picture: milosevic]

In an unexpected concession, embattled Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic met with three of the University of Nis students. It was the first time the president met with students since they began marching more than four weeks ago.

During the meeting, he promised an investigation of charges of election fraud. "He promised us he would punish all those who have broken the election law, not only in Nis but elsewhere in Serbia," said Predrag Cveicanin, one student demonstrator.

(c) 1996 Cable News Network, Inc.

Serb Court Orders Local Vote Recount
Ruling Marks Further Milosevic Concession
By John Pomfret
Washington Post Foreign Service
Tuesday, December 17 1996; Page A14
The Washington Post

Protests continued here and in at least 10 other Serbian cities tonight despite the rulings. Tens of thousands of students trudged through the capital carrying flashlights, lanterns and candles to symbolize the democratic "light" spreading throughout the darkness of Milosevic's rule.

(c) Copyright 1996 The Washington Post Company

USA Today
12/17/96 - 11:23 AM ET
Students march 48 hours to meet Serbian president

BELGRADE, Yugoslavia - Their feet bloodied, 17 students who marched for 48 hours arrived in Belgrade Tuesday in hopes of presenting their demands for democracy to Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic.

The students walked 150 miles from Nis, the second-largest Serbian city, in a symbolic protest against the overturning of victories by Milosevic's opponents in Nov. 17 local elections.
The Nis students were greeted overnight by about 1,000 Belgrade students on the highway between the two cities. The Nis students said they hoped Milosevic, who has been in power since 1987, will meet them Tuesday so they can show him documents proving the opposition was robbed of victory.

There was no indication Milosevic, who has not met or directly addressed any of the protesters or opposition leaders, would make an exception.

"We marched for 48 hours, and I hope he can spare 15 minutes of his precious time to talk to us," said one of the marchers, Predrag Cveticanin.

But Milosevic's foes are demanding more, and the Nis marchers said their protest was intended to help all 15 Serb cities where the opposition won, including Belgrade, get their election annulments reversed.

By The Associated Press

Tuesday December 17 5:29 PM EST
Milosevic Warns Students on Protests

BELGRADE, Yugoslavia (Reuter) - President Slobodan Milosevic warned student protesters Tuesday against fomenting foreign interference in Serbia while an opposition leader said the United States has decided "he has got to go."

Milosevic met three students from Nis university as members of the independent trade union Nezavisnost led another huge Belgrade demonstration against fraud by the ruling Socialists in municipal elections Nov. 17.

The Tanjug news agency said Milosevic, who has been heavily criticized by the West, told the students their protest against election rigging would be investigated but added:
"We must be completely clear, however much your leaders go to embassies and send envoys and travel to world capitals. A foreign hand shall not rule Serbia. We are our own masters in Serbia and must resolve our (own) problems."

He ordered the Justice Ministry to investigate documents which the students said proved election-rigging.

Copyright (c) 1996 Reuters Limited.

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