No compromises seen as Serb clashes continue
January 26, 1997
Web posted at: 8:30 p.m. EST (0130 GMT)
In this story:
BELGRADE, Yugoslavia (CNN) -- Serbia's Orthodox patriarch
prepared to lead a religious procession through Belgrade on
Monday, raising the possibility of new anti-government
On the eve of the planned march, baton-wielding riot police
beat back demonstrators Sunday as tens of thousands marched
through Belgrade in a continuing protest against government
annulment of local elections. At least five were hurt.
Banned from marching by day, Belgrade's demonstrators now
take to neighborhood streets by night, making as much noise
as they can in an effort to drown out the sound of
There have been almost 10 weeks of demonstrations across
Serbia to make President Slobodan Milosevic's Socialist party
accept opposition victories in 14 local elections last
Socialist authorities annulled the election results because
of unspecified "irregularities." Appeals led to judicial
inquiries which reinstated the opposition victories in four
Patience is wearing thin on both sides and tempers are
fraying. Prior to Sunday's clashes, late Saturday four
protesters and one policeman were hurt and at least 16
demonstrators were injured Friday.
Monday's church-led procession appeared to have potential for
new disturbances. Pro-government Orthodox clerics, who
traditionally have sided with the opposition, may use the
St. Sava Day procession to sidestep the police ban on protest
With no compromise in the air, the government and opposition
are locked in an indefinite struggle. Amid reports of a
shakeup in his government, Milosevic listens to -- but hasn't
acted on -- international demands that he accept the local
At the same time, the president's socialist-led coalition
government may losing support from the small New Democracy
party. "We are ready to see our country a democracy like
other countries in Europe," as long as change comes
peacefully, says New Democracy party leader Radivoje
In light of such a potential defection, Milosevic appeared
ready to renew an alliance with Serbian ultranationalist
Vojislav Seselj whose paramilitary troops were widely
recognized as being among the most brutal during the Bosnian
and Croatian wars.
Opposition leader Vuk Draskovic ridicules Seselj as a
"mistake of nature."
Correspondent Brent Sadler and Reuters contributed to this report.
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