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Serbia: Minister Says Opposition Won Majority Of Belgrade Districts

Vienna, 3 January 1997 (RFE/RL) - Rump Yugoslavia's foreign minister conceded today that opponents of Slobodan Milosevic had won election victories in a majority of Belgrade's municipal districts. Milan Milutinovic said in a letter to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) that the opposition coalition Zajedno (Together) had won nine of 16 Belgrade districts.

The letter was addressed to Danish Foreign Minister Niels Petersen, the current chairman of the OSCE, which sent a delegation to Belgrade to study the contested elections on Dec. 21.

The delegation, led by former Spanish Prime Miister Felipe Gonzalez, concluded that the opposition had won nine of 16 Belgrade districts, and in 13 disputed cities. The permanent council of the Vienna-based OSCE was to meet today in special session to discuss the findings of the team.

Reuters reports that Milutinovic's letter also said the results in Serbia's second biggest city, Nis, were still being studied. He reportedly said the opposition won the election in Uzice, Kragujevac and Zrenjanin but no party had won a majority in Pirot, Pancevo, and Jagodina. Gonzalez's report had said the opposition had won the election in all these municipalities.

Milutinovic also called for more data regarding six other municipalites where Gonzalez said the opposition had won.

Commenting on the Milutinovic letter, which appears to accept at least part of the opposition election victories, Zoran Djindjic, a leader of the Zajedno (Together) opposition coalition, said the opposition could not accept partial solutions and that his Democratic Party, one of the parties in the Zajedno coalition, would continue its peaceful protests.

Vuk Draskovic, another opposition leader denounced Milutinovic's letter as lies and a rejection of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) recommendations. Draskovic accused Milosevic of "insulting and humiliating" the opposition by refusing to accept all its election wins and called for protests to continue in Belgrade.

Meanwhile, the Serbian Writers' Association today accused Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic of having brought the country to the verge of civil war, but an opposition leader says there is little danger of major violence.

In an open letter the Writers' Association says Milosevic has deliberately provoked battles in the streets of Belgrade and has hit a blow against the state, the constitution, and the law.

The letter, signed by the president of the Association, Slobodan Rakitic, was quoted today in the independent press.

A leader of the Zajedno (Together) opposition coalition however ruled out any degeneration of peaceful street protests into civil conflict.

Zoran Djindjic told Reuters television today that Milosevic's authority had degenerated so much that there was little danger of major violence.