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Y UN - Croatia Calls On Eastern Slavonia Serbs To Vote

Zagreb, 10 April 1997 (RFE/RL) -- Croatian President Franjo Tudjman has appealed to ethnic Serbs in Eastern Slavonia to vote in this Sunday's elections, saying it was time for the wounds of the past to be healed. Tudjman made the appeal in a statement issued today after meeting the transitional head of the U.N.-administered region, Jacques Klein. Eastern Slavonia is the last ethnic Serb-held part of Croatia and Sunday's local elections are seen as a key step in the region's return to Croatia.

The local ethnic Serb assembly decided yesterday to postpone a final decision on whether to take part in the polls until Friday. Local Serbs fear reprisals after Eastern Slavonia falls under Croatian control.

Tudjman's statement promised that Serbs who accept Croatia's constitution and laws will be allowed to stay in the country and will have their civil rights and property safeguarded by the state.