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Yugoslavia: Opposition Rallies For Recognition Of 'Victory'


Belgrade, 28 September 2000 (RFE/RL) -- A crowd estimated at more than 200,000 filled central Belgrade last night to demand Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic give up power. The crowd jammed Republic Square and its surrounding streets in a show of support for opposition presidential candidate Vojislav Kostunica. The crowd waved banners and chanted "He's finished," in a reference to Milosevic. The opposition says Kostunica won Sunday's presidential vote with 54 percent. But the Federal Electoral Commission says neither he nor Milosevic gained the necessary 50 percent to win in the first round.

Kostunica told the crowd the opposition will not take part in a runoff vote called for October 8 because "the truth is that we won these elections and they lost." He said there will be no compromise with the Milosevic regime.

The rally was peaceful and ended without incident.

Rallies also took place in other cities and towns in Serbia. Some 50,000 opposition supporters demonstrated in Novi Sad.

Early today, the Electoral Commission announced the final official results from Sunday's presidential election. It said Kostunica won 48.96 of the vote to Milosevic's 38.62 percent.

The statement, distributed by the state news agency Tanjug, confirmed a preliminary announcement by the commission on Tuesday that Kostunica had fallen short of the required majority.

Zoran Djindjic of the Democratic Opposition of Serbia called the announcement a "joke." He said the opposition will urge people to defend their vote and to rally in the streets until Milosevic steps down.

Yugoslavia's Federal Electoral Commission has released the final official results from Sunday's presidential election and says a runoff poll must be held.

The results confirmed the Commission's preliminary decision on Tuesday that neither Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic nor opposition candidate Vojislav Kostunica won a majority in the first round.

The Commission said today in a statement that Kostunica won 48.96 of the vote to Milosevic's 38.62 percent. The opposition says Kostunica won Sunday's vote outright with about 54 percent.

Today's announcement came hours after Kostunica addressed a Belgrade crowd estimated at more than 200,000. The crowd chanted for Milosevic to step down.

Kostunica told the crowd the opposition will not take part in the runoff vote called for October 8 because "the truth is that we won these elections and they lost."

Zoran Djindjic of the Democratic Opposition of Serbia called today's runoff announcement a "joke." He said the opposition will urge people to defend their vote and to rally in the streets until Milosevic steps down.

Yugoslavia's political opposition has called for strikes and street protests in efforts to force Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic to concede election defeat.

More than 200,000 jubilant supporters of opposition presidential candidate Vojislav Kostunica gathered in Belgrade last night for a victory rally. They denounced the electoral commission's demand for a second run-off round.

The commission ruled that neither Milosevic nor Kostunica won a majority in the first round.

The opposition says Kostunica won Sunday's vote outright with about 54 percent. He said:

"Dear brave citizens, liberated people. We won. We won despite the lies and the violence of Slobodan Milosevic."

Kostunica told the crowd the opposition will not take part in the runoff vote called for October 8.

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