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Serbia: Protests Resume Despite Milosevic's Concession

Belgrade, 5 February 1997 (RFE/RL) - Thousands of protesters returned to the streets of Belgrade today despite President Slobodan Milosevic's decision yesterday to concede opposition victories in November's municipal elections. Skeptical opposition protesters say they will continue demonstrating against the government in a bid for broader democratic reforms.

Milosevic yesterday ordered the Serbian parliament to draft legislation that would ratify the election results in 14 of the country's 18 largest cities, including the capital Belgrade.

About 20,000 university students marched through downtown Belgrade today. They were not hindered by security police. But when thousands of opposition party supporters assembled downtown after the student rally, armed police formed a cordon and stopped them from marching.

Many of the protesters today said they doubted Milosevic's sincerity in awarding them the election victories. International observers also are expressing caution. French Foreign Minister Herve de Charette said he hoped Milosevic's decision is not a delaying tactic and an attempt to shift the responsibility to the parliament.

De Charette is to meet the three main Serbian opposition leaders in Paris tomorrow.