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Yugoslavia: Opposition Issues Ultimatum On Vote Count


Belgrade, 26 September 2000 (RFE/RL) - Yugoslavia's opposition leaders have given the government a deadline of tomorrow to release election results. Spokesman Cedomir Jovanovic said last night that if the government fails to release official results the opposition will proclaim its candidate, Vojislav Kostunica, the winner. The head of the state electoral commission, Borivoje Vukicevic, has given no indication when official vote tallies would be available. Up to 40,000 opposition supporters gathered in central Belgrade last night to celebrate their view that Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic was defeated in Sunday's presidential election. Similar opposition rallies were reported in towns across Serbia, including Nis, Novi Sad, Kraljevo and Sokobanja. The rallies came as state electoral authorities again failed to provide even preliminary results of Sunday's vote. The opposition contends that Kostunica clearly beat Milosevic, ending the president's 13 years in power in Serbia.

But Milosevic's supporters in the ruling government parties maintain that Milosevic is leading in the vote-count. The head of the state electoral commission, Borivoje Vukicevic, rejected widespread reports of fraud, saying the election had been free and fair. He gave no indication when official vote tallies would be available.

Russia and Western countries disagree over the extent of irregularities in the Yugoslav presidential and legislative elections.

Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov yesterday praised Sunday's vote, saying the selected foreign observers invited by Milosevic's regime had seen no "serious irregularities." Ivanov issued a new call for international sanctions against Yugoslavia to be lifted.

But the United States and the European Union raised concerns about large-scale voting irregularities. They backed opposition claims of victory and warned Milosevic against staying in power by fraudulent means. The U.S. State Department said the Yugoslav authorities had made a "massive" effort toward electoral fraud. The European Union said any claim from Milosevic that he had won the election would be a fraud

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