One day after a massive demonstration shut down this capital, the ranks of protesters denouncing the regime of Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic were thinned Tuesday, hidden under a sea of umbrellas. But the mood in Belgrade’s main Terazije Square appeared angrier.
“No court has the right to take my vote,” said one protester, Petar Markovic, as he stood in the driving, cold rain.
Serbia’s Supreme Court on Tuesday night rejected an appeal by the opposition coalition Zajedno, or Together, to reinstate its landslide victories in Nov. 17 municipal elections. Milosevic has refused to accept defeat, and the opposition has vowed to continue its protests until he respects the election results.
“The Supreme Court for the umpteenth time has put itself in the service of the ruling party and lawlessness. But this time it is strange that Milosevic’s regime provokes new clashes and destabilizes the state in this way,” said Slobodan Vuksanovic, spokesman for the opposition Democratic Party.
About 50,000 angry demonstrators - less than half Monday’s number - jeered for 10 minutes when Milosevic’s name was mentioned, convinced that the Serbian president was behind an earlier court decision to annul dozens of opposition victories in Belgrade, the Serbian and Yugoslav capital, and several cities across Serbia.
During the rally, opposition leader Vuk Draskovic appealed: “Officers, come with us. Army, join us.” The army and the police, main pillars of Milosevic’s power, have so far remained on the sidelines of the protests but they have maintained a heavy presence in Belgrade’s parks.
Opposition leaders fear that the West is playing down Milosevic’s electoral maneuver, because the man who is viewed as the architect of the war in Bosnia-Herzegovina is now seen by the international community s a guarantor of peace in that neighboring country.