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Serbia: Protests Continue As Court Upholds Cancellation Of Election Results

Belgrade, 4 December 1996 (RFE/RL) - Some 25,000 people marched through the streets of Belgrade today, continuing protests against the annulment of local elections. The fresh protest came as a court upheld the disputed cancellation of local elections in the Serbian capital. A Zajedno (Together) opposition coalition spokesman is quoted as saying the Belgrade court confirmed the cancellation on the ground that procedural rules had not been kept.

The annulment of last month's election results has triggered more than two weeks of protests with up to 100,000 people marching in the streets of Belgrade. The opposition claimed victory in 15 out of Serbia's 18 largest cities and towns, including Belgrade.

Until now Milosevic has refrained from cracking down on the demonstrations, although an increased number of police have been reported on the streets of Belgrade. Western countries have warned Milosevic against using force against peaceful demonstrators. The United States is urging withholding of trade privileges to Serbia because of the election annulments.

About 90 Serbian judges joined the protest today, demanding in an open letter that the annulment of the election results be re-examined. Yesterday several Supreme court judges expressed criticism of the government's actions.

The protests have been largely ignored or downplayed by the government-controlled media. Yesterday, in an attempt to stifle the few independent media, the authoritires shut down two radio stations. The move was condemned today by the International Journalists' Federation. In Belgrade the independent Journalists' Association of Serbia demanded the resignation of Serbian Information Minister Aleksandar Tijanic.