Belgrade, 16 December 1996 (RFE/RL) - Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic on Friday offered to let international observers check the fairness of elections that prompted Western condemnation after opposition parties claimed the vote was rigged.
The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe
(OSCE) welcomed a request from rump Yugoslavia but warned it could
not verify the November local elections.
Instead, OSCE chief spokeswoman Melissa Fleming said the group could meet all the parties and suggest ways for getting out of the crisis.
Hours later, the opposition Zajedno (Together) coalition and
Belgrade students staged the biggest protest in Belgrade so far.
More than 100,000 students and opposition supporters joined a 26th day of demonstrations, jamming the city center and adjoining streets.
Our correspondent also reports Belgrade students staged a 20-kilometer march across the city.
Zajedno leader Vuk Draskovic rejected the idea of OSCE intervention: He said, "What we want is to be given back what has been
stolen from us."
Milosevic, under severe U.S. pressure, said in a letter
to Secretary of State Warren Christopher that Serbia had a
healthy democracy and accused Zajedno of "political terrorism."
Milosevic proposed the OSCE should check the November vote
in which Zajedno said the socialists suffered their worst defeat
in 50 years of unbroken rule.
Zajedno accused the socialists of stuffing ballot boxes in
provincial towns. In Belgrade, the socialists initially admitted
defeat before accusing Zajedno of "irregularities." The courts have siddes with the socialists.
The socialists issued an invitation to the opposition to
hold a parliamentary debate on the recent elections and the role
of the media.
But Zajedno has said it would boycott any dialogue until the
results of the local elections were reinstated.