Milosevic confirms he’ll participate in runoff election


Associated Press

BELGRADE, Yugoslavia – Slobodan Milosevic deepened the political crisis in Yugoslavia today, confirming he will take part in runoff presidential elections despite claims of a first-round victory by a pro-democracy challenger and opposition threats of a general strike.

In a show of confidence, Milosevic summoned his closest Socialist Party associates for a meeting that focused on “immediate tasks” ahead of the Oct. 8 second round of the presidential vote, government-sponsored television reported.

“The presidential elections will go into the second round,” said Milosevic’s top aide, Nikola Sainovic. “We will do our best so that our candidate wins.”

Milosevic’s move signals he has no intention to back down and recognize an apparent victory of the opposition candidate, Vojislav Kostunica, as demanded by the opposition and dozens of international officials, including President Clinton.

The opposition threatened today to call a general strike, shutting down schools, offices and other public institutions until Milosevic steps aside.

The scope of such a boycott is questionable, since the state services and economy have been in disarray for years. The opposition has tried public disobedience campaigns in the past, but they have never really worked.

Announcing final results of the Sunday vote, the Federal Electoral Commission said just before midnight Wednesday that Kostunica earned 48.96 percent of the vote to 38.62 percent for Milosevic. That would require a runoff Oct. 8.

The opposition, however, using figures from its poll watchers, claims Kostunica won 52.54 percent to Milosevic’s 32.01 percent.

“The election process is going on in accordance with the law,” Sainovic said dismissing opposition claims. “The Socialists will respect the decisions of legal bodies.”

Critics fear Milosevic might cite the “legality” of the federal commission’s announcement, and use force against any future opposition demonstrations.

Encouraged by the enormous popular support for Kostunica at an opposition rally Wednesday, a key opposition leader, Zoran Djindjic, warned “we shall seek to paralyze all institutions, schools, theaters, cinemas, offices … call everyone onto the streets and stay on the streets until he who wants to be president by force gives up his post.”

Key officials in Kostunica’s coalition conducted emergency talks. In a statement issued after the meeting they pledged to “defend the truth and the democratic will of our people,” but failed to outline any specific strategy.

Declaring that “Kostunica was elected Yugoslav president in the first round of the elections,” the opposition leaders once again called on the members of the Federal Electoral Commission to “publicly acknowledge the true election results.”

The influential Serbian Orthodox Church recognized Kostunica’s election victory and addressed him as “president-elect.” The church holds no direct political power in Yugoslavia, but its dictates hold great moral sway in a population that recognizes it as a pillar of rectitude in a corrupt society.

In Montenegro, the pro-Western Prime Minister Filip Vujanovic also recognized Kostunica’s win, insisting that Milosevic must no longer manipulate the will of the people.

Support for Kostunica’s victory claim grew after more than 200,000 people swarmed the capital’s downtown district in a major demonstration of support for their leader. There was no visible police presence near the crowd.

Belgrade’s ally Russia, however, warned Western countries not to interfere. Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov said Moscow “stands firmly for the peoples of Yugoslavia to have full freedom to express their will without internal or external pressure” and urged other countries “not to allow destabilization of the situation.”

Milosevic faced new troubles, meanwhile, within his governing coalition. The ultranationalist Serb Radical Party demanded a reshuffling of the government and the dismissal of a key Milosevic aide, Interior Minister Vlajko Stojiljkovic.

The party’s leader, Vojislav Seselj, said he will demand Stojiljkovic’s resignation at the assembly meeting Saturday because of his alleged corruption, misuse of authority and incompetence.

Stojiljkovic is a top aide of Milosevic. After the bloody offensives last year by Serb government troops against ethnic Albanian separatists in the province of Kosovo, both were indicted by the U.N. war crimes tribunal in The Hague, Netherlands.

Copyright ©2000 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Talk to us

> Give us your news tips.

> Send us a letter to the editor.

> More Herald contact information.

More in Local News

Snohomish residents Barbara Bailey, right, and Beth Jarvis sit on a gate atop a levee on Bailey’s property on Monday, May 13, 2024, at Bailey Farm in Snohomish, Washington. Bailey is concerned the expansion of nearby Harvey Field Airport will lead to levee failures during future flood events due to a reduction of space for floodwater to safely go. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Harvey Field seeks to reroute runway in floodplain, faces new pushback

Snohomish farmers and neighbors worry the project will be disruptive and worsen flooding. Ownership advised people to “read the science.”

Grayson Huff, left, a 4th grader at Pinewood Elementary, peeks around his sign during the Marysville School District budget presentation on Tuesday, Nov. 28, 2023 in Marysville, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
State OKs Marysville plan with schools, jobs on chopping block

The revised plan would mean the loss of dozens of jobs and two schools — still to be identified — in a school district staring down a budget crunch.

IAM District 751 machinists join the picket line to support Boeing firefighters during their lockout from the company on Thursday, May 16, 2024, in Everett, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Amid lockout, Boeing, union firefighters return to bargaining table

The firefighters and the planemaker held limited negotiations this week: They plan to meet again Monday, but a lockout continues.

The Trestle’s junction with I-5 is under evaluation (Kevin Clark / The Herald)
Here’s your chance to give feedback on the US 2 trestle and its future

Often feel overwhelmed, vulnerable and on shaky ground? So is the trestle. A new $17 million study seeks solutions for the route east of Everett.

John Pederson lifts a flag in the air while himself and other maintenance crew set up flags for Memorial Day at Floral Hills Cemetery on Friday, May 24, 2024 in Lynnwood, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Volunteers place thousands of flags by veterans’ graves in Lynnwood

Ahead of Memorial Day, local veterans ensure fellow military service members are never forgotten.

Brian Hennessy leads a demonstration of equipment used in fire training at the Maritime Institute in Everett, Washington on Wednesday, May 22, 2024. (Annie Barker / The Herald)
‘Ready to go full sail’: Maritime Institute embarks at Port of Everett

The training facility offers Coast Guard-certified courses for recreational boaters and commerical vessel operators.

George Beard poses for a photo outside of the the Stanwood Library in Stanwood, Washington on Wednesday, May 8, 2024.  (Annie Barker / The Herald)
From sick to the streets: How an illness left a Stanwood man homeless

Medical bills wiped out George Beard’s savings. Left to heal in his car, he got sicker. Now, he’s desperate for housing. It could take years.

Logo for news use featuring Snohomish County, Washington. 220118
Lawsuit says Snohomish County deputies not justified in Sultan shooting

Two deputies repeatedly shot an unarmed Sultan man last year, body camera video shows. An internal investigation is pending.

An airplane is parked at Gate M9 on Tuesday, May 21, 2024 at O’Hare International Airport in Chicago, Illinois. (Jordan Hansen/The Herald)
Good luck to Memorial Day travelers: If you’re like me, you’ll need it

I spent a night in the Chicago airport. I wouldn’t recommend it — but with flight delays near an all-time high, you might want to pack a pillow.

Editorial cartoons for Friday, May 24

A sketchy look at the news of the day.… Continue reading

Cascade’s Mia Walker, right, cries and hugs teammate Allison Gehrig after beating Gig Harbor on Thursday, May 23, 2024 in Lacey, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Seniors Wilson, Tripp power Cascade softball past Gig Harbor

The pair combined for three homers as the Bruins won the Class 3A state softball opening-round game.

The original Mountlake Terrace City Council, Patricia Neibel bottom right, with city attorney, sign incorporation ordinance in 1954. (Photo provided by the City of Mountlake Terrace)
Patricia Neibel, last inaugural MLT council member, dies at 97

The first woman on the council lived by the motto, “Why not me?” — on the council, at a sheriff’s office in Florida, or at a leper colony in Thailand.

Support local journalism

If you value local news, make a gift now to support the trusted journalism you get in The Daily Herald. Donations processed in this system are not tax deductible.