News for February 13th, 1997

The USA commended this evening the decision of Serbian Parliament to acknowledge the victory of the opposition in the local elections, but they also warned the ruling Serbian Socialist Party not to attempt to deprive the local authorities of their jurisdiction.

The City Electoral Committee (GIK) of Belgrade verified today all 110 delegate mandates for the City Assembly of Belgrade, 67 of which belong to the "Zajedno" coalition, according to the report of the OSCE committee, Radomir Lazarevic, President of the GIK announced today. GIK confirmed 67 mandates of the "Zajedno" coalition, 24 of the Socialist Party of Serbia and the Yugoslav Left, 17 mandates of the Serbian Radical Party and two of the Democratic Party of Serbia, Lazarevic said at a press conference. He said that the GIK notified Dragan Tomic, President of the Serbian Assembly today that they have concluded their work and that Tomic is obliged to, within five days, convoke a constitutive session of the City Assembly of Belgrade. The mandates verified by the GIK today represent the true will of the voters, expressed at the only location it is supposed to be expressed - the polling places, Lazarevic said. He said that this committee operated in complete compliance with the law.

The Belgrade students walked to the editorial staff of the Third Channel of the state television in order to protest against the suspension of a few journalists of this television program. Cedomir Jovanovic, member of the Initiative Board stated for FoNet that the today's action of the Student Protest represents the support to the people who supported the students while they were facing the cordon in the Kolarceva street. The students then circled around the Sava Center, exclaiming "Down with the Third Channel" and then returned across the Branko's Bridge to the Plato before the School of Philosophy.

A procession of Belgrade citizens who were going to the protest rally of Zajedno coalition in Belgrade this evening left a soldier bag in front of the building in which Dragan Tomic, the president of Serbian Parliament, lives. The traditional soldier bag contained the symbols of the citizen protest in Serbia - a whistle, an egg and a collection of photographs taken during the protest. These things were put in the soldier bag because Tomic said of the demonstrators that they were militant, explains Srdja Popovic, a delegate of coalition Zajedno in the City Assembly.

Zoran Djindjic, the president of the Democratic Party, stated today that he was the candidate for the Mayor of Belgrade, but added that it is possible that someone else take this position. "I would like to see who will be the opposing candidate. To talk about Belgrade and discuss whether somebody has one candidate more or less - it is an insult for the city. Let us see the opposing candidate. If he is good, and if he is capable of managing the city well, I shall be the first to support him," said Djindjic for the today's "Blic". He added that there were no conflicts inside coalition Zajedno.

Vuk Draskovic, the president of the Serbian Renewal Movement (SPO) stated today that there were no problems inside coalition Zajedno, and that there had only been a delay in signing the agreement on the distribution of functions. "According to that agreement, the SPO will suggest one of its members for future candidate for the president of Serbia, the Democratic Party (DS) will suggest a candidate for the republic prime minister, and the Civic Alliance of Serbia (GSS) will suggest a candidate for the president of Serbian Parliament," said Draskovic for BK Television.

Concerning the information that his wife Danica Draskovic would be suggested for the president of the Belgrade city government, Vuk Draskovic, the president of the Serbian Renewal Movement (SPO), stated for the "Nasa Borba" that the proceedings of suggesting candidates for city and municipal boards were underway and that the head of the party would be informed about it later on. The "Nasa Borba" adds that the officials of the Democratic Party did not want to comment on these suggestions and information. Danica Draskovic stated for Radio B92 today that the City board of the SPO had proposed to the party leadership to nominate her for the president of the Executive board of the City Assembly, but that she was still thinking whether to accept this nomination. She added that her decision would depend on the agreement between the partners in coalition Zajedno.

Vesna Pesic, President of the Civil Alliance of Serbia (GSS) announced that "the special law" on the acknowledgement of the results of the local elections "allows possibility of manipulation in regards to the mandates" and that, due to this, the "Zajedno" coalition will continue the demonstrations until it can be seen how the Law will be applied. Pesic explained that the possibility for any manipulations, in the course of the conduction of the Law lies in the fact that the report of the OSCE cites the municipalities in which the "Zajedno" coalition won without stating the number of the representative mandates precisely.

Ivica Lazovic, who was seriously wounded while participating in the coalition Zajedno rally on December 24, when the counter-rally of the Serbian Socialist Party was held in Belgrade, declared that the investigation organs had falsified his statement. Lazovic said for the today's "Dnevni Telegraf" that he was surprised at the opinion of the investigative judge that it was a case of "a criminal act of causing general danger". Rade Vasilic, the deputy manager of the Trauma Center in Belgrade said for Beta agency that the left side of Lazovic's body, as well as the left side extremities, would remain permanently damaged.

The students of the School of Political Sciences will organize a discussion about the functioning of a legal state and about the election crisis. The discussion will be begin at 18:00 on February 14, in the amphitheater at this school.

The Council of Nis University advised the Deans and students of this university to make plans for the beginning and normalizing of lectures till February 24 at latest. In the session of the Council, it was concluded that until that date the demand of Nis students - that lectures should begin when the constitutive sessions have been scheduled in all boroughs and cities in which the local elections were legalized by the special law passed by Serbian Parliament - should be met by then.

Around 2,000 teachers and professors of 45 primary and secondary schools in Novi Sad held "a public lecture" in the square in front of the City Assembly today, which was a gesture of protest against "the miserable wages, which come irregularly". The gathering of all teachers in the city was organized by the state and the independent syndicates together for the first time. The teachers of Novi Sad sent an open letter to Mirko Marjanovic, the president of the Serbian Government, in which they expressed their exasperation at the lack of understanding for the justified demands of teachers on the part of the republic government.

More than 500 teachers protested today at noon in the central town square in Subotica. The teachers of Subotica graded the work of the Serbian Ministry of Education with the lowest mark, and informed the Ministry that it had failed all exams because of its lies, wrong calculations, lack of ethics, unsatisfactory management and unforgivable behaviour.

Pero Radunovic, the representative in the City Assembly of Belgrade, who was elected as a candidate of the Serbian Radical Party at the local elections, joined the Democratic Party (DS) two days ago, the Beta news agency discovers at the DS. Radunovic was elected in the voting unit Palilula 7. After Radunovic's joining the DS, the "Zajedno" coalition has 68 representatives in the City Assembly, out of which 34 belong to the DS.

Vojislav Seselj, leader of the Serbian Radical Party, estimated today that the adoption of the special law brought to an irregular situation, which can be solved only by new local elections.

None of the 238 kindergartens in Belgrade is operating today, due to the strike of the employees in the pre-school institutions who demand the wages increase from 220 to 504 dinars, Marija Tunic, President of the Syndicate of the Employees in the Pre-school Institutions of Belgrade stated today. The strike of the kindergardten employees has been going on for four days already and during this time none of the Government representatives spoke with them. Approximately 50000 children in Belgrade haven't gone to their kindergartens today.

The negotiations between the teachers and the government representatives were continued in the Serbian Government today, while some 15000 teachers, parents and children were protesting before the Government building. There has been no progress, Jagos Bulatovic, coordinator of the negotiation team of the teachers and President of the Independent Syndicate of Education of Serbia said after the talk with Mirko Marjanovic, Prime-minister, that lasted an hour and a half. He announced the continuation of the negotiations for tomorrow morning, which is also the term for the continuation of the protest before the Serbian Government.

Rebeka Srbinovic, spokesman for the New Democracy, stated today that the special law on the acknowledgement of the results of the local elections from November 17th mustn't be used as cover-up to those who broke the rules and exceeded their authority. "New Democracy will insist on establishing the responsibility of all the individuals who contributed to the political crisis in this way", Rebeka Srbinovic said at a press conference, adding that her party, for the time being, nevertheless, "will not take any official initiative".

The Information Service of the Serbian Renewal Movement (SPO) estimates in its today's announcement that, although there are 1800 schools, out of 2200, that are on strike, the authorities "are showing the same indifference they have been showing towards the student demands for more than three months". SPO demands that the Serbian Government "momentarily presents a clear plan on how to solve this situation, name the culprits and recommend the ways for fulfillment of the strikers' demands".

Several thousand primary and secondary school teachers protested today in Liberation Square in Nis, requesting that the demands made by the republic board of the independent education syndicate should be fulfilled. The strike of Nis teachers was joined by nursery school employees today.

Teachers of Pirot protested today in the central town square and opted for the continuation of the strike until the demands made by the republic board of education syndicate have been fulfilled.

The Protest board of students of Nis University announced today that Nikola Bozinovic, student at the School of Electronics, had left the Protest board and that he no longer stood for the attitudes of that board. Bozinovic, at his own demand, had left the position of the spokesman for the student Protest board in Nis at the end of January, announced the Protest board.

Danilo Vickovic, Dean of the School of Veterinary medicine in Belgrade, informed today the heads of the school departments that lectures in the second semester would begin on February 17, although the Council of that school had decided that there would be no lectures until the Student Protest has ended. In their yesterday's session, 34 Council members decided unanimously that, at the students' demand, the examination term and lectures should be postponed until the Student Protest 96/97 has ended. Dean Vickovic did not attend the session. The Council also decided to start the proceedings for the recall of Dean Danilo Vickovic and Vice-Dean Slobodan Jovanovic. The Council members condemned Vickovic's invitation to the service of the First department of Belgrade police to search and question the teachers, assistants and other staff at this school. It was also decided that the Council should be in session between 9:00 and 15:00 every day until Dean Vickovic and Vice-Dean Jovanovic have resigned.

The Belgrade Foundation for humanitarian law announced today that police had maltreated Zivana Jankovic from Belgrade both mentally and physically in the night between 2nd and 3rd February. Zivana Jankovic and her relative who was driving the car were stopped by the police and taken to the police station in Majke Jevrosime street, where they were detained until 9:30 in the morning, when they were released. The Foundation has brought criminal charges against a policeman, because he maltreated and arrested these two citizens.

Citizens of Sabac and supporters of coalition Zajedno protested in this town today. During the today's 75th rally, the present citizens were waiting for the Municipal Electoral Committee to verify the delegate mandates for the Town Assembly according to the special law on the acknowledgement of the results of local elections held on November 17. After the gathering, the citizens went for a protest walk along the streets of Sabac.

The Protest board of the Student Protest 96/97 at the School of Geography sent an open letter to professor Mirjana Markovic, in which they demanded of her to state her attitude, as a professor of Belgrade University, towards the students' demands concerning the recognition of the election results and the dismissals of the Chancellor and the Vice-Chancellor.

Zoran Zivkovic, the Mayor of Nis and the vice-president of the Democratic Party, stated this evening that citizens of Nis would persist in their protest until the last municipal assembly has been constituted according to the citizens' will expressed on November 17.

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