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Serb Opposition Counting On Court Decision Could Take Control Of Capital Away From Milosevic

Sat., Dec. 7, 1996

Counting on the courts to restore their election victory in Belgrade, opposition leaders vowed Friday to keep up the pressure on Slobodan Milosevic until the Serbian president relents or quits.

The Serbian Supreme Court was considering an appeal Friday that was aimed at defusing the opposition’s largest and most determined protests against Milosevic since he took over in Serbia in 1987.

A decision was expected soon, perhaps today, on a legal appeal that could hand control of the capital to the opposition. It would be the opposition’s first major victory over Milosevic, and the first time since the end of World War II that the capital has not been ruled by Communists or their successors.

In Washington, the State Department demanded that Milosevic make room in Serbia’s government for his critics.

“The Serbian government should initiate an open dialogue with the opposition in Serbia,” State Department spokesman Nicholas Burns said. “The opposition should be allowed to participate in the political life of the country.”

“The opposition is freely now participating on the streets of the country; it should be let into the halls of power,” Burns said.

Some 100,000 people protested in Belgrade on Friday, the latest of almost three weeks of daily demonstrations since opposition victories in local elections were annulled by Milosevic-controlled courts.


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