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Yugoslavia: Milosevic And Kostunica Claiming Election Lead


Belgrade, 25 September (RFE/RL) - Supporters of both President Slobodan Milosevic and frontrunner opposition candidate Vojislav Kostunica today claimed victory in Yugoslav presidential elections in the absence of any official results. The Democratic Opposition of Serbia party said that with over 60 percent of polling stations counted, Kostunica was leading with 55 percent of the votes, compared to Milosevic's 34 percent. Goran Gajevic, a top official in Milosevic's Socialist Party, said that with 37 percent of the ballots counted, Milosevic was ahead by 45 percent to Kostunica's 40. Gajevic said he expects Milosevic will win in the first round. Kostunica told reporters today that if Milosevic tries to tamper with the vote, the opposition will defend their victory by peaceful means for as long as it takes.

More than 40,000 people gathered on a central Belgrade square tonight to celebrate victory over Milosevic, saying the opposition had won the Yugoslav election yesterday.

More than 10,000 people rallied in Serbia's second largest city, Novi Sad, and thousands also gathered in the southern city of Nis. There were no reports of incidents.

The Yugoslav electoral commission has yet to release any official results or turnout figures. An opposition member of the State Election Commission, Sinisa Nikolic, complained the commission had not met since late Sunday and had not resumed work by Monday afternoon.

Meanwhile, Western governments said Milosevic had lost the election and that they would not accept any fraudulent claims of victory.
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