Milosevic’s regime may meet the fate it deserves

It’s nice to finally see a bully get what he deserves. After terrorizing his people and overseeing war crimes that tore apart his country and horrified the world, Slobodan Milosevic’s 13-year reign seems to be coming to an end.

Milosevic isn’t going down without a fight. Rather than acknowledge defeat in the very elections he called, Milosevic is demanding a runoff for Oct. 8 against the obvious winner, Vojislav Kostunica of the Democratic Opposition party.

This time the people of Yugoslavia are standing up to the bully like neighborhood kids sick and tired of being picked on. One can hardly help but be excited to see democracy at work. More than 200,000 people packed Belgrade’s Central Square Wednesday night in support of Kostunica and to denounce the current government’s declaration of a runoff election. Thousands of others rallied in smaller towns. Waving signs and shouting, "He’s finished," people throughout the country proved the elections weren’t nearly as close as Milosevic’s Socialist Party would like everyone to believe.

It’s encouraging to hear the people say they will continue the rallies until Milosevic steps down. Any sign of relenting or compromise would be just the foothold Milosevic needs to buy time to rig the proposed election in his favor — or worse. Kostunica has said the only way Milosevic can keep power is by repression, but that he can’t even count on that anymore. Still, who wants to give him a chance?

The people of the former Yugoslavia have a tremendous amount of work ahead. First, they must focus on getting rid of Milosevic. Their resolve must be so strong that the tyrant and his followers can’t possibly misunderstand the message. That alone will be a monumental task.

But the real work is yet to come. As one wise 25-year-old medical student told a reporter during the rally, "I believe he’s finished, because of the people here. We hope he’ll go. But he won’t go so easily. Things here can’t change that fast, even if he does go."

We have only to look at the former Soviet Union to see how the excitement and passion of democracy can quickly fade when reality sets in. What a challenge it must be to establish a brand new government and country in these times. Yugoslavia’s chances of a successful transition and rebuilding will be much greater if the people apply passion along with the understanding that democracy takes constant adjustments.

But first, back to the basics. Milosevic must go. He should be smart enough to accept the very generous offer of leaving the country in exchange for avoiding a trial on war crime charges. That kind of offer is called mercy — something Milosevic wouldn’t know anything about.

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