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Serbia: Opposition To Boycott Parliament As Protests Continue


Belgrade, 9 December 1996 (RFE/RL) - Leading opposition figure Zoran Djindjic says the opposition coalition Together has decided to boycott the Federal Yugoslav Republic's parliament, which is due to open tomorrow in Belgrade. Djindjic told the independent radio station B-92 that the coalition, which claimed to have won victory in local elections in some 15 out of 18 key towns, would boycott the federal parliament in order to protest the annulment of those victories.

Together has for the past 21 days organized a series of massive demonstrations in Belgrade and other cities to protest against the annulment of the election victories.

Tens of thousands of demonstrators, protesting the arrest and beating of a young supporter, again marched through the streets of Belgrade today as their leaders vowed not to stop until Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic resigns. Police arrested and reportedly beat of a 21-year-old demonstrator over the weekend after he had stood atop a jeep with an effigy of Milosevic in a prison uniform.

Union organizers battled fear of a police crackdown to try to get workers to join the daily protests, which began after authorities annulled the November 17 elections that the opposition won in Serbia's capital and 14 other cities.

Djindjic, leader of the opposition Democratic Party, said it was no longer a question of the opposition winning back its election gains.

"This is an uprising to win democracy," he said.

Djindjic called for negotiations between the opposition and the regime of Serbian president Slobodan Milosevic to end the country's political crisis. He told a Belgrade daily newspaper today that the country needs a political compromise "and this can only be achieved by something like round table talks."

Djindjic, who is also one of the leaders of the Zajedno (Together) opposition alliance, said the authorities annulment of opposition victories in local elections last month had been a political decision, not a legal one.

He warned that the opposition's resistance to the annulment was strong and said that without negotiations, mass street demonstrations will continue.

Serbia's highest court has rejected complaints from the election commission in Belgrade and from Zajedno, upholding the annulments.

Last night the court also confirmed that the ruling Socialists had won re-run elections in Belgrade held after the earlier voting had been annulled. The election commission is appealing the ruling.

Over the past three weeks hundreds of thousands of people have taken to the streets of Belgrade and other cities in protest.
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