News for December 8th, 1996

The leaders of the "Zajedno" coalition stated the on Sunday that they do not acknowledge the decisions of the Court, because the Courts have not been independent for some time, and that the victory of the opposition can not be measured in mandates but by the democratization of the country. "The marathon for democracy continues and we will win", stated Zoran Djindjic, president of the Democratic Party, at the protest of at least 50,000 citizens of Belgrade who took to the streets on Sunday for the 19th time.

Bogdan Tirnanic submitted his resignation to the position of general manager of the television program of "A.D. Politika". He handed his resignation to the general manager Hadzi-Dragan Antic last Wednesday.

The leader of the Serbian Renewal Movement stated in today's interview to the BBC TV that the peaceful demonstrations would continue until the resignation of Serbian President, Slobodan Milosevic, who following the decision of the Supreme Court of Serbia "put himself at the head of state terrorism".

The leader of the Democratic Party stated that the demonstrations in Serbia would continue and strengthen unless Milosevic's regime admitted the victory of the opposition on the local elections. The West doesn't support Milosevic "because we, the democratic parties, represent the stronger guarantee for the fulfillment of the Dayton Peace Accord", said Djindjic to the Spanish daily "El Pais".

The students of the Belgrade University lit candles in the Temple of Sveti Sava i belgrade and prayed for peace and success of their protest against the disrespect of the electoral will of the citizens. The Belgrade students repeated that they will continue their protest until their demands have been met.

The Head Committee of the Democratic Party gave its unreserved support to the protest of citizens of Belgrade and Serbia "against the authorities and its electoral stealing". The president of the Serbian Democratic Party, Vojislav Kostunica, stated on Sunday, that formally president Milosevic can only submit his resignation, and that any other procedure is hard to realize.

The managing Board of the Attorney Association of Serbia condemned on Sunday the annulment of the electoral results in the local elections, and requested that the results of the second ballot be acknowledged.

Slobodan Vucetic, judge of the Supreme Court stated that the demand of the opposition for the resignation of Milosevic is legitimate, but that the procedure of the replacement of the president is "rigorous and difficult". The procedure should be supported by two thirds of the members of the Serbian Parliament, after which a a referendum would be held. He added that the Attorney Association would discuss the decision of the Supreme Court on Monday.

Leaders of the Zajedno coalition publicly demanded the resignation of President Milosevic for the first time on the protest meeting of 35,000 people held in Nis today.

Between five and ten thousand students of the University of Novi Sad decided on the protest gathering in front of the School of Philosophy, to start striking on Monday. They also decided to ask the rest of their colleagues to boycott lectures until the demands stated in the declaration of the students are granted.

The special informant of the UN for human rights for the region of former Yugoslavia, Elizabeth Ren, stated that she was "unpleasantly surprised" about the manipulation of the votes during the local elections in Serbia. " It represents a step back for Serbia, independently of the unbearable situation which was been here the past few years", stated Ren for the Pristina daily in Albania "Koha".

Sources in the European Community in Brussels rated the decision of the Supreme court of Serbia to annul the results of the local elections, as an "uncomprehensible move by Milosevic, damaging to himself", and as "a challenge to the opposition". By the conviction and official position of the EC, the Serbian democratic opposition, "won the elections fairly and regularly" in the capital, add the sources in the first informal reaction to the decision of the Supreme Court of Serbia.

The City Electoral Committee dos not comply with the decisions of the Supreme Court of Serbia. Radomir Lazarevic, the president of the Committee, stated this evening that a request for the reconsideration of the decision of the Supreme Court of Serbia would be lodged at the Federal Court; the requests for legal action for protecting legality would be submitted to the Public Attorney of the Republic and to the Federal State Attorney.

Dejan Bulatovic, the student who (during the demonstrations in Belgrade) had carried the puppet representing Slobodan Milosevic, was sentenced to a 25-day prison term. He was denied the contact with his attorney, and, according to his mother's words, he was physically and mentally maltreated. All his clothes were taken away in the police station, they put a pistol in his mouth and a nightstick in his anus, they insulted him, beat him and opened the window so that he might "cool off", although Bulatovic suffers from asthma. Bulatovic's mother said that she had found him naked on the cell floor and in a very bad condition.

Cathy Marton, President of the Committee for Protection of Journalists with the seat in New York, stated this evening that Slobodan Milosevic, Serbian President, with whom she had spoken for two and a half hours, is well-informed about the protests in Belgrade. Cathy Marton said that Milosevic thinks he has lost support in Belgrade, but not in other parts of Serbia. She pointed out that she had not delivered any message from her husband, Richard Holbruke, the former assistant of the American Secretary of State, to Milosevic. She added, however, that her husband is satisfied because of her coming to Belgrade. When asked whether Washington is prepared to accept someone else, except Milosevic, as a partner, Cathy Marton answered that the American Government would negotiate with any leader elected democratically by the people, and said: "We did not elect Milosevic".

European diplomats and analysts were greatly surprised by the information that the Supreme Court of Serbia had declined the requests for revoking the decisions of the First Municipal Court in Belgrade, by which the results of the local elections had been annulled.

The concern about the possibility of violent confrontation of the regime with the democratic movement of the masses increased today in European diplomatic circles. The circles of the Council of Ministers announce a change of European strategy towards the Serbian opposition, which they have mostly ignored up to now, so they are preparing to establish firmer connections with it. It is also announced that European heads of states and governments will have to consider the situation in Serbia more seriously at the forthcoming summit in Dublin, on 13th and 14th December.

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