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Serbia: Another Court Rules In Favor Of Opposition

Belgrade, 16 December 1996 (RFE/RL) - The Serbian opposition today scored another success in its drive to have its victories in last month's municipal elections recognized. A court in the industrial city of Smederevska Palanka ruled in the opposition's favor, revoking the city election commission's annulment of the opposition victory in the November local elections.

Supporters of the opposition Zajedno (Together) coalition have staged mass protests in the capital Belgrade and elsewhere over the past month to gain re-instatement of election results around the country. They are demanding the resignation of President Slobodan Milosevic and his government for annulling the results.

This is Zajedno's second such court victory in two days. Yesterday a court in the industrial city of Nis accepted local opposition complaints against the annulment.

Tens of thousands of opposition supporters and students took to the streets of Belgrade again today to protest the Socialist government's annulment of opposition victories.

Reports say that as many as 30,000 students marched demanding more democracy in Serbia. And at least 100,000 supporters of the opposition coalition Zajedno staged a separate anti-government demonstration.

Students are also demanding the resignation of President Slobodan Milosevic and his government, and establishment of a multi-party commission to investigate the election annulments.

Meanwhile, in Moscow, Russian Foreign Minister Yevgeny Primakov says the dispute between Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic and the opposition is an internal matter and warned other states not to interfere.

Primakov made the remark at a news conference today in Moscow. He said Milosevic deserved credit for having offered to hold talks with the opposition -- an offer the opposition had declined -- and of the fact that no blood had been shed.

Russia has traditionally had close ties with its fellow Orthodox Christian Slavs in Serbia.

Meanwhile, Carl Bildt, the top official in charge of the civilian aspects of the Dayton peace accords, today called on Milosevic to peacefully settle his conflict with protesters. Bildt warned that Serbia was "headed for disaster." He said Milosevic has to recognize that he must step down.

Bildt was attending talks in Geneva on humanitarian issues concerning Bosnia following key meetings on the region's future in Paris and London.