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Serbia: Milosevic Orders Opposition Election Victories Reinstated

Belgrade, 4 February 1997 (RFE/RL) - Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic has ordered the reinstatement of disputed opposition victories in local elections last November. Milosevic sent a letter today to Prime Minister Mirko Marjanovic instructing him to have the government pass a special law that will accept the election results "in keeping with the findings of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe" factfinding mission.

The official Yugoslav Tanjug quotes the letter as saying "the election disputes" had caused "great damage" to the government both at home and abroad and that "it was high time to solve the problem." He said the need to improve foreign relations "far exceeds the significance of any number of seats in a handful of cities."

The opposition said it won control in 14 of Serbia's biggest cities, including Belgrade.

Milosevic's announcement was met by cheers among the opposition, coming just before the start of the daily pro-democracy rally.

Milosevic's move came after riot police provoked a storm of international protest by beating up pro-democracy demonstrators in Belgrade on Sunday and yesterday. It was the first violence in more than two months of protests.