Five candidates' presidential bids certified
The Federal Election Committee announced this week that five candidates have submitted their names as candidates for the Presidency of Yugoslavia in the upcoming 24 September 2000 elections.
All five who submitted nomination forms, the committee said, had fulfilled the requirements to stand for office. First on the list was the Affirmative Party's Miodrag Vidojković, followed by Democratic Opposition of Serbia candidate and putative front-runner Vojislav Kostunica, then incumbent President Slobodan Milošević, Vojislav Mihailović and Tomislav Nikolić.
Greek foreign minister meets Milošević
Meeting with Greek Foreign Minister, George Papandreou, in Belgrade this week, President Slobodan Milošević asserted that he would "personally guarantee" the "democratic character" of the upcoming presidential elections.
In what the Serbian media called a "very positive" meeting, Papandreou told Milošević that, regardless of their outcome, "regularly conducted" elections would go a long way toward giving Serbia "an entrée into the European Union."
In a statement released to the state-run Tanjug news agency, Milošević said Yugoslavia had always conducted a peaceful policy in the Balkans that had contributed to regional stability, adding that, as a leading country in the region, Yugoslavia was an "example of independence."
In an interview with independent Radio B2-92, Papandreou said his message for Serbia was that Greece would very much like to see a European future for its Orthodox co-religionists. With Greece as a member of the European Union, he added, this was also a "European message."
Serbian President Milan Milutinović, meanwhile, released a statement saying that the Greek foreign minister's visit was a "confirmation of the permanent friendship between the Greek and Serbian peoples and their countries, on the basis of mutual respect and non-interference in internal matters, and for the prosperous development of relations in all fields of cooperation."
The United States, meanwhile, expressed dismay that its NATO ally would choose to meet with Milošević. A State Department spokesman said, "We believe it is an unfortunate situation that a European leader met with a person indicted for war crimes."
Kostunica draws 20,000 in Čačak
Democratic Opposition of Serbia (DOS) candidate and apparent front-runner Vojislav Kostunica drew more than 20,000 people to a Friday rally. Local organizers said it was the largest crowd ever drawn in the western Serbian town of just under 50,000 residents.
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"They insulted you and you need to exact your revenge. The 24 [September] is a day for revenge, not their kind of revenge, but our kind, with your pencil and your vote for the truth and not his lies," Kostunica said.
While in Čačak, Kostunica received a near-endorsement from Ognjen Pribičević, a top advisor to Serbian Renewal Movement (SPO) leader Vuk Drašković, who said the SPO may support Kostunica if he entered a second round of balloting after the 24 September elections.
Pribičević reiterated the SPO's line that it was good for the opposition to have several candidates in the presidential elections, adding that "the candidate who passed [the first round should] get the support of the whole opposition in the second round."
The SPO was heavily criticised at home and abroad for running its own presidential candidate rather than throwing Drašković's still considerable weight behind Kostunica.
Kostunica is said to enjoy a healthy lead over Milošević in pre-election polls, but even the candidate himself has admitted that he expects the election to be rigged.
Humanitarian Law Fund director Nataša Kandić agreed with the assertion, Beta reported, saying that Milošević "would not hand over power even if everyone voted" for Kostunica.
Kandić joined other opposition activists in saying "it is important that on the night of September 24 we do not sit at home but be ready to go out and defend our vote."
She warned that the ruling coalition was "preparing conditions" to allow it to proclaim victory regardless of the outcome at the polls, warning that if that was the case, "nobody is going to be safe any more."
"In the current circumstances the regime can announce any number of votes it pleases, because we have nobody to help us in verifying the victory, as we had in the 1996 elections. The regime has the power now because it is on its own."
Observers from China and India?
Kandić is unlikely to take comfort from Yugoslav United Left (JUL) spokesman Ivan Marković's assertion at a late week press conference "a large number of countries will send observers for the elections. These countries are Russia, China, India as well as all other well-intended countries."
At the same press briefing, Marković said "I am expecting Slobodan Milošević to win in the first round of the elections," claiming that voting for Kostunica was the same as voting for Madeleine Albright and adding that the Democratic Opposition of Serbia (DOS) was neither democratic nor an opposition group.
Meanwhile, when asked why JUL members were distributing timetables to primary school pupils with the party's logo, Marković said cryptically, "The Yugoslav Leftist Party is as beautiful as the pigeon of peace in the logo."
Perhaps he meant "dove" of peace? JUL is the party of Mira Marković, President Slobodan Milošević's wife.
Slobo's wife to head Chamber of Citizens?
According to a report in Glas javnosti, Mira Marković, Yugoslav United Left President and wife of Slobodan Milošević, is a leading candidate to become president of the Federal Parliament's Chamber of Citizens if she wins election in Pozarevac.
At a rally to announce the joint JUL-Socialist Party list of candidates for Pozarevac, Marković called the Democratic Opposition of Serbia (DOS)'s candidates "the primary candidates of the NATO election list," who "acted on behalf of the authors of the policy of the greatest international violence," Beta reported.
The Socialists and JUL, she said, pledged to support "peace, freedom and a nicer tomorrow's day [sic]."
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