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Serbia: Protestors And Police Create Traffic Gridlock

Belgrade, 8 January 1997 (RFE/RL) - Anti-government protestors in cars were stopped by riot police in downtown Belgrade today, creating traffic chaos and gridlock in the center of the Serbian capital. Riot police have been preventing opposition street marches for the past two weeks, saying the protests disrupted traffic. As a result, opposition leaders called on supporters to drive their cars to central Belgrade today.

Thousands of riot police blocked the traffic, however. Opposition leader Vuk Draskovic called the police action unbelievable. He said they should be regulating traffic, not blocking it. Opposition supporters booed and jeered the police officers. Some vehicles were reportedly towed away and some drivers were taken into custody.

A statement issued by the neo-Communist party of Mirjana Milosevic, the wife of President Slobodan Milosevic, accused the opposition of trying to topple the legally-elected Serbian leadership. The statement, carried by the state news agency Tanjug, said "terrorism, violence, anarchy and jeopardizing normal life in the cities is not the road for democracy."

The opposition coalition Zajedno has been staging huge demonstrations across Serbia since Milosevic annulled the November 17 election results in cities where the opposition won control of municipal councils.