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Date: Fri, 21 Feb 97 17:36:26 CST
From: (Brian Hauk)
Subject: Belgrade Formally Concedes Elections

Belgrade Formally Concedes Elections

By Argiris Malapanis, The Militant, Vol.61 no.8, 24 February 1997

After three months of non-stop marches and rallies, the parliament of Serbia acted on President Slobodan Milosevic's instructions and passed a law February 11 conceding victory to the opposition coalition Zajedno in municipal elections in 14 of the republic's 19 largest cities, including the capital Belgrade. The vote was 128-0 with two abstentions in favor of reversing the regime's annulment of the November 17 municipal election results.

Buoyed by the victory, students, striking teachers, and others continued their daily protests to press other demands. On the afternoon of February 12, tens of thousands of teachers, who have walked out of 1,800 schools across Serbia, surrounded the Serbian parliament to demand back wages and salary increases. At about the same time, 20,000 university students marched in Belgrade on their 82nd daily protest to demand the ouster of the college's pro-Milosevic rector.

On February 11, U.S. Assistant Secretary of State John Shattuck announced he will go on an official visit to Belgrade soon. This registered a policy shift for the Clinton administration, which a month earlier had publicly ruled out high-level contacts with government officials in Serbia.

Next day, NATO troops in Bosnia, now numbering 35,400, stepped up patrols in the city of Mostar, seizing some weapons from residents. The move came after Croatian government forces, which control half of this city, expelled about 200 Muslims from their homes and then fired on them, killing one man and wounding 20 others.

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