Opposition claims it has votes to oust Milosevic


Associated Press

BELGRADE, Yugoslavia – Yugoslavia’s opposition claimed today it has enough votes to avoid a runoff against President Slobodan Milosevic, as election officials remained silent on the official vote count.

The opposition accused the government of stalling while Milosevic tries to manipulate the results, either to declare himself the winner or force a runoff vote on Oct. 8. It said the State Election Commission has until Wednesday to release the results of Sunday’s election or it would proclaim challenger Vojislav Kostunica the winner.

The opposition’s latest tally, based on 97.5 percent of the ballots, showed Kostunica, leading with 55 percent to Milosevic’s 35 percent. Milosevic’s party had said Monday that with 37 percent of the ballots counted, the president was ahead with 45 percent to Kostunica’s 40 percent.

All political parties were allowed to have representatives present when votes were counted locally.

Opposition alliance spokesman Cedomir Jovanovic insisted today that the election commission convene, calling its silence “unprecedented.” He offered opposition registers and balloting material to assist the commission if necessary.

Milosevic’s officials should “congratulate the opposition and hand over power without fear,” Jovanovic said, appealing to “reasonable members … to persuade their leadership to accept the results.”

The United States and dozens of European countries have issued stern calls for Milosevic to recognize the opposition tally and step down.

British Prime Minister Tony Blair, in speech today to a Labor Party conference, said: “And I say to Milosevic. You lost. Go. Your country and the world has suffered enough.”

By midday today, the commission had not reconvened after a brief meeting Sunday night, according to Sinisa Nikolic, a member of the panel from the ranks of the opposition alliance.

“We are not even dealing with preliminary results, and I have no idea where and how the ballots are being counted,” Nikolic said.

A Greek parliament member, one of several foreign observers invited by the Yugoslav government, also expressed concern about delays in releasing the results. Carolos Papoulias told an Athens radio station it was certain that Milosevic’s party suffered “a widespread defeat” in municipal elections.

“It also seems that the present coalition retains a majority in the two parliaments and the third thing from what we hear is that there may be a second Sunday for the election of a president,” Papoulias told Athens’ Flash radio.

However, the chairman of the commission, Borivoje Vukicevic, told several dozen foreign observers from “friendly” countries – such as Russia, China and some African nations – that had monitored the balloting that the commission was working “efficiently and in accordance with the law.”

“The elections were free and fair,” Vukicevic said, as quoted by the state Tanjug news agency. “Experience tells us that the citizens have given their trust to those who most deserve it, who are most capable of leading state policies of this honorable and dignified nation.”

Tens of thousands of people hit the streets Monday night in Belgrade and elsewhere across Serbia to celebrate what the opposition and much of the international community has said was a stunning victory and an end of Milosevic’s 13-year autocratic rule.

The United States has pledged to lift sanctions against Yugoslavia – which include blocking international bank loans, an oil embargo and denying visas to Yugoslav officials – once Milosevic accepts defeat.

“We accept Milosevic as an indicted war criminal. He belongs in The Hague. He doesn’t belong at the helm of the Yugoslav government,” said White House spokesman P.J. Crowley. “There’s no way that Milosevic can claim a victory.”

French Foreign Minister Hubert Vedrine, whose country currently holds the rotating European Union presidency, today urged the EU Commission to take the necessary measures to lift sanctions against Yugoslavia and pledged support for the opposition.

“Something has happened with this vote that will not stop. The hour of change has rung in Belgrade,” Vedrine said.

Yet Milosevic’s camp showed itself unprepared to give in, reportedly jamming the last remaining independent Belgrade radio station – student Radio Index – during its live coverage of the opposition celebration.

All other independent electronic media were banned by state authorities on the eve of elections last week.

Ljubisa Ristic, a neo-communist Milosevic ally, while insisting the president could still win in the first round, admitted Milosevic’s coalition suffered a sweeping defeat in municipal elections.

Just 150 miles northwest of Yugoslavia’s pro-Western republic of Montenegro, U.S. and Croat naval forces simulated a landing operation today on an island in the Adriatic Sea – part of their largest and most demanding joint exercise to date.

Some speculated the timing was aimed at discouraging Milosevic from exerting force to ensure he stays in power. Capt. William Crow, commander of the USS Austin, said the exercise was planned months ago and was unrelated to the Yugoslav elections.

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

Ariel Garcia, 4, was last seen Wednesday morning in an apartment in the 4800 block of Vesper Dr. (Photo provided by Everett Police)
How to donate to the family of Ariel Garcia

Everett police believe the boy’s mother, Janet Garcia, stabbed him repeatedly and left his body in Pierce County.

A ribbon is cut during the Orange Line kick off event at the Lynnwood Transit Center on Saturday, March 30, 2024 in Lynnwood, Washington. (Annie Barker / The Herald)
‘A huge year for transit’: Swift Orange Line begins in Lynnwood

Elected officials, community members celebrate Snohomish County’s newest bus rapid transit line.

Bethany Teed, a certified peer counselor with Sunrise Services and experienced hairstylist, cuts the hair of Eli LeFevre during a resource fair at the Carnegie Resource Center on Wednesday, March 6, 2024, in downtown Everett, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Carnegie center is a one-stop shop for housing, work, health — and hope

The resource center in downtown Everett connects people to more than 50 social service programs.

Everett mall renderings from Brixton Capital. (Photo provided by the City of Everett)
Topgolf at the Everett Mall? Mayor’s hint still unconfirmed

After Cassie Franklin’s annual address, rumors circled about what “top” entertainment tenant could be landing at Everett Mall.

1 dead in crash near Lynnwood following police pursuit

Deputies said they were pursuing a man, 37, south on Highway 525 when he swerved into northbound lanes and drove the wrong way.

A memorial with small gifts surrounded a utility pole with a photograph of Ariel Garcia at the corner of Alpine Drive and Vesper Drive ion Wednesday, April 10, 2024 in Everett, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Death of Everett boy, 4, spurs questions over lack of Amber Alert

Local police and court authorities were reluctant to address some key questions, when asked by a Daily Herald reporter this week.

People walk along the waterfront in front of South Fork Bakery at the Port of Everett on Thursday, April 11, 2024 in Everett, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Port of Everett inks deal with longtime Bothell restaurant

The port will break ground on two new buildings this summer. Slated for completion next year, Alexa’s Cafe will open in one of them.

The new Amazon fulfillment center under construction along 172nd Street NE in Arlington, just south of Arlington Municipal Airport. (Chuck Taylor / The Herald) 20210708
Frito-Lay leases massive building at Marysville business park

The company will move next door to Tesla and occupy a 300,0000-square-foot building at the Marysville business park.

The Temple of Justice is shown Thursday, April 23, 2020, at the Capitol in Olympia. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren, file)
WA high court: DUI breath tests valid, machine results not at fault

A state Supreme Court ruling reversed an earlier Kitsap County decision that found alcohol breath tests inadmissible as evidence.

People fill up various water jug and containers at the artesian well on 164th Street on Monday, April 2, 2018 in Lynnwood, Wa. (Andy Bronson / The Herald)
Washington will move to tougher limits on ‘forever chemicals’ in water

The federal EPA finalized the rules Wednesday. The state established a program targeting the hazardous chemicals in drinking water in 2021.

Logo for news use featuring the municipality of Lake Stevens in Snohomish County, Washington. 220118
US 2 to partially close late Friday near Lake Stevens

The state Department of Transportation will detour drivers during the 10-hour closure between Highway 9 and Highway 204.

Pat Clayton works on putting in electrical wiring at the new Helion headquarters on Wednesday, Jan. 19, 2022 in Everett, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Everett’s Helion eyes Central WA for groundbreaking energy venture

Chelan Douglas Regional Port Authority commissioners approved a letter of intent with Helion on Tuesday.

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.