|Saturday, October 7, 2000,
People’s power unsaddles Milosevic
against Serbia to go from Oct 9
No more cards left for Milosevic
Israel seals off West Bank, Gaza
Afghan Oppn forms anti-Taliban front
US House votes to punish Russia
Indians boycott Fiji
statute review panel
People’s power unsaddles Milosevic
BELGRADE, Oct 6 — (Reuters, AFP) — The Opposition was in charge of Belgrade’s streets today after a popular and almost bloodless revolution appeared to have swept President Milosevic and his henchmen from power.
Belgrade turned into a huge open-air party in the early hours of Friday, with dancing in the streets, as Opposition supporters celebrated what they saw as their new-found freedom.
Demonstrators yesterday stormed the federal Parliament as well as the building housing the executive of Milosevic’s Socialist Party. Even his propaganda machine switched sides, many of his police joined the protesters and the army stayed in its barracks.
After initial resistance from the police, which fired tear gas, crowds burst into Parliament, setting fire to some parts and ransacking filing cabinets. They also took over Serbian state television.
The independent news agency, Beta, reported that one girl died when she was run over by an excavator during the demonstrations and three other people were injured by firearms in Belgrade. About 100 people sustained injuries.
There was no official word on the whereabouts of Milosevic, but Beta reported late on Thursday that three aircraft had taken off from a military airport near Belgrade, fuelling speculation that some of the leadership might be leaving.
Serbian Opposition sources said Milosevic was in a bunker in the village of Beljanica, some 40 km west of the town of Bor, which is close to the Romanian and Bulgarian borders, protected by troops.
Earlier Opposition party leader Zoran Djindjic said Milosevic was in Bor along with his associates and warned that he might be preparing “a coup” to regain control.
Tanjug news agency said the Yugoslav army would act only if its military facilities, personnel and material goods come under direct threat, citing sources close to the army leadership.
“As Tanjug has learnt from sources close to the army leadership this means the Yugoslav army remains consistent to the stands publicly announced several times that it will act within its constitutional powers,”.
Beta said the Yugoslav army would not interfere in protests by hundreds of thousands of demonstrators. “The Yugoslav army will in no way interfere in street events,” Beta quoted a source close to the military leadership as saying.
When asked whether the Opposition was in contact with the armed forces, a former General-turned-Opposition leader, Yuk Obradovic, told Reuters: “Negotiations are constantly under way.”
Serbian television, an important weapon in Milosevic’s armoury after the authorities banned some independent media, went blank for several hours and came out with a written message saying: “This is the new Radio Television Serbia broadcasting”.
Mr Vojislav Kostunica, leader of the Democratic Opposition of Serbia, gave an address on Serbian state television in which he was presented as “new Yugoslav President”.
Kostunica promised there would be no revenge towards those who are politically different, and called for establishment of a “democratic culture and civilised dialogue”.
He told Serbian state television that Slobodan Milosevic would not be extradited to the International Criminal Tribunal in the Hague (ICTY).
“Every time I am asked the question over Milosevic’s issue, I resolutely say no” to the ICTY, said Kostunica.
In a speech outlining his democratic vision for Yugoslavia, Kostunica promised that government-run media would be open to all political parties in Yugoslavia.
The presidential title accorded to him by the television station appeared to confirm Kostunica had taken power in Yugoslavia after hundreds of thousands of his supporters mobbed Belgrade and seized the federal Parliament building and the state television centre.
In an appeal for normal after the uprising, Kostunica said: “A new phase has started today, one where power will be changed with elections.” He vowed that his “mandate will be very short and that in a year and a half the latest, free and democratic elections for the Yugoslav Parliament will be called.”
Gillian Sandford in Kolubara, (Serbia) and Owen Bowcott in London of the Guardian add: As convoys of Opposition vehicles converged on Belgrade, a shockwave of protests spread across the countryside. Hesitant riot police stood by, or were swept aside by the popular uprising.
In the northern town of Subotica, near the Hungarian border, the arrest of a student activist triggered a rally of 10,000 people in the town square. In the third largest city, Nis, a similar-sized demonstration tried to force its way into the local offices of President Milosevic’s Socialist Party but was persuaded by Opposition leaders not to give police a reason to attack them.
Attempts to block the roads leading to the capital were easily thwarted. Where the police had set up roadblocks they were overwhelmed by the numbers pressing forward. A procession of vehicles carrying 2,000 people was briefly stopped near the town of Smederevska Palanka, 30 km south of Belgrade, but eventually pushed its way through barricades.
There were more defections to the opposition from the state-controlled media. Dnevnik newspaper in northern Serbia carried reports on Opposition activities and the wave of strikes and blockades. At the strikebound coal mine in Kolubara, where police first gave ground to the crush of opposition demonstrators on Wednesday night, the occupation by miners continued in defiance of the police who had taken over part of the complex in an attempt to prevent widespread power cuts.
The 7,500 strikers at Kolubara understood what was at stake. ``I’m not afraid of the police. There’s no reason to be afraid,’’ said Miljana Ljuba, a 36-year-old who spent 17 years working the pits in a region that until last week solidly supported Mr Milosevic. ``The police are people, just like us. We are fighting for justice.’’
In Serbia’s junior federal partner, Montenegro, the presidential adviser Miodrag Vukovic warned: ``Milosevic is still alive politically. He is more dangerous than ever.’’ Against a background of fast-moving events, Mr Vukovic also suggested that Montenegro’s union with Serbia was essentially dead.
“There is definitely no Yugoslavia,” he said. “In Montenegro everything is working perfectly, while Serbia is coming to a standstill. If Yugoslavia still existed we would probably be having anti-Milosevic demonstrations here, but we are not.’’
EU sanctions against Serbia to go from Oct 9
BRUSSELS, Oct 6 (AFP, Reuters) — The European Union will start lifting its sanctions against Serbia from Monday when its Foreign Ministers meet in Luxembourg, Eu’s representative on foreign policy Javier Solana said today.
“The timetable is very clear,” Mr Solana told BBC in a live interview.
“On Monday there were be a general affairs council and at that meeting the sanctions will begin to lifted,” he said, using the formal name for EU Foreign Ministers’ meetings.
“It’s a very, very clear sign of our wish to start a new relationship with a democratic ex-Yugoslavia,” Solana said.
BERLIN: Germany today urged the European Union to offer immediate aid to the new authorities in Belgrade in order to foster democracy in Yugoslavia.
Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer told a news conference he would make the proposal at a meeting with his 14 EU counterparts in Brussels.
WASHINGTON: President Bill Clinton has hailed the popular revolt against Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic, as the USA sought Russia’s help in persuading Milosevic to relinquish power after 13 years.
Serb opposition sources reported that Milosevic was in a bunker in eastern Serbia, protected by army troops, and could be preparing a coup.
PARIS (AFP): Western leaders called on President Slobodan Milosevic to go as a sea of protestors in Belgrade turned the tide by storming the federal Parliament and state television.
“Your time is up”, said British Prime Minister Tony Blair.
“The verdict of the people in the elections was clear. The verdict of the people on the streets is clear. The message for Milosevic is clear. Your time is up. Go, Go now,” said Mr Blair.
President Jacques Chirac, whose country holds the rotating EU presidency, urged Milosevic to “give the Serb people their freedom”.
No more cards left for Milosevic
After 13 years as unquestioned leader of Yugoslavia, Mr Slobodan Milosevic was left without any cards to play on Thursday night. Deserted by the people whom he put through three wars, he was also deserted by the media machine that faithfully pumped out his propaganda. In the final sudden hours he must have realised that, after the police melted away in the face of the huge crowds outside the Parliament building in Belgrade the army would stay doggedly neutral. The loyalty of his feared paramilitary police was also in question.
These last lines of his defence crumbled rapidly last night in the face of people power as the opposition led by Mr Vojislav Kostunica, organised and unified as never before, secured Interior and Defence Ministry guarantees that they would not launch a crackdown on their own people.
There were even unconfirmed reports last night that Mr Milosevic and his wife had fled the country.
A former Milosevic loyalist, Army Chief of Staff, and key figure in the Bosnia war, General Momcilo Perisic, went to the army command to negotiate the military’s neutrality against the insurgency.
In any case the pace of events on the ground last night in Belgrade was creating its own new reality and it appeared that Mr Milosevic’s survival options were increasingly focused on flight abroad.
He may well be able to buy himself a safe haven. All through the 90s his regime has been stripping the assets of the Yugoslav state and salting them abroad — in Cyprus, in Russia, in China and other offshore treasure chests.
The liberal Russian MP, Mr Boris Nemtsov, said at the weekend that Moscow should help Serbian democracy by organising Mr Milosevic’s flight and settling him in Minsk, the Belarus capital.
European Union officials in Brussels, speaking privately, indicated that the exit plan was raised in talks between Russian and German and French leaders in Moscow last week.
For a decade, ever since Mr Milosevic turned tanks against his own people on the streets of Belgrade in March 1991 and before he launched wars in Croatia, Bosnia, and Kosovo a widespread view has been that the President would go down fighting not against Croats, the Muslims of Bosnia, or Kosovo Albanians, but against his own people in the country he destroyed.
Israel seals off West Bank, Gaza
JERUSALEM, Oct 6 (Reuters) — Israel’s army sealed off the West Bank and Gaza Strip early today, saying it hoped to reduce the risks of confrontation with Palestinians through Yom Kippur, the holiest day of the Jewish year.
Sixtynine persons — all but three of them Arabs — have died in a week of the bloodiest fighting between Palestinians and Israelis in four years.
An army spokeswoman said the closure was imposed at 4 a.m. (local time, 7.30 a.m. IST). It barred Palestinians from entering Israel through Monday night, the end of the holiday, the Jewish day of atonement.
“The Closure...is meant to prevent security risks at the weekend and on Yom Kippr,” an Army communiqué said. It said entry to Israel would be allowed for humanitarian reasons and food and medicines would be allowed into the Palestinian areas.
Israeli Security forces prepared for possible confrontations after today’s prayers at the site in Jerusalem revered by Jews as the Temple Mount and Muslims as Al-Harim Al-Sharif, the noble sanctuary, where clashes began last week and spread.
Meanwhile, the Palestinian leadership said it expected what it called “Israeli aggression” to resume today. In a statement issued after a meeting attended by Arafat, the PLO executive said Israel intended to take military steps against the Palestinian people.
Arafat’s Fatah faction in Nablus issued a statement calling for its members to continue fighting Israel.
Arafat earlier returned from a tripartite meeting with Barak and US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright in Paris and a subsequent meeting in Egypt to brief President Hosni Mubarak which Barak did not attend.
After the talks with Arafat and Albright, Mubarak called for an emergency Arab summit this month to address the escalation in Israeli-Palestinian violence and the future of the peace process.
In Washington, President Bill Clinton called on both sides to stop the violence. “The most important things is to stop the killing and the dying and the violence. The next most important thing is to get on with the peace process,” he told reporters in the White House Rose Garden.
Barak said after returning from the U.S.-hosted Paris talks that he was not sure the Palestinians were seeking peace.
“The significances of the possibility that we don’t have a ready partner for peace at the moment are long-term. They can be connected to deadlock, deterioration and conflict, and could cost not a small amount of blood,” he told reporters.
Arafat, meanwhile, made a new demand for an international inquiry to be set up to investigate the clashes.
“We will insist... on the necessity and the importance of convening an international fact-finding panel on what our people have suffered from massacres and severe aggression that violate international law,” he told reporters after arriving back in the Gaza Strip.
Afghan Oppn forms anti-Taliban front
KABUL, Oct 6 (Reuters) — Senior Afghan Opposition leaders met in Iran this week to form a united front against Afghanistan’s ruling Taliban movement following repeated military setbacks, an opposition official said today.
Yonus Qanoni said Commander Ahmad Shah Masood, in a rare visit to the neighbouring Iranian city of Mashad on October 4, met Uzbek warlord General Abdur Rashid Dostum and the former Governor of Herat Mr Ismael Khan.
It was the first meeting of the Opposition commanders in Iran in the wake of recent Taliban advances against Masood, the last formidable obstacle for the Taliban to gain complete control of the country.
Most of the commanders present in the meeting live in exile after being defeated by the Taliban which swept to power four years ago.
Mr Qanoni said according to the strategy agreed to at the meeting thousands of former soldiers and afghan refugees based in Iran and Uzbekistan would be mobilised and transported by air to Afghanistan’s northeastern Badakhshan province.
From Badakhshan, the political heartland of the opposition, these combatants would be sent to the respective zones of each commander, Mr Qanoni added.
US House votes to punish Russia
WASHINGTON, Oct 6 (PTI) —The House of Representatives has passed by unanimous voice vote legislation to prohibit the USA from providing debt relief to Russia unless Moscow agrees to stop all sale of SSN-22 Sunburn missiles to China.
The bill now goes to the Senate.
The White House, however, said in a statement that it was opposed to the bill as it “is keen on maintaining good relations with Russia and develop closer relations with China.”
The White House “does not believe the (measure) would be effective in accomplishing its aim of dissuading Russian arms sales to China,” the statement said.
Meanwhile, Russian nuclear experts said their country needed no loans and whatever “aid” the USA gave was in the mutual
interest of dismantling surplus nuclear weapons and similar projects in the mutual interest.
Indians boycott Fiji statute review panel
SUVA (Fiji) Oct 6 (AP) — Fiji’s ethnic Indian political parties and social groups boycotted a Fijian constitutional review commission named today by the troubled nation’s military-installed regime.
The Indian-dominated Fiji Labour and National Federation parties, which have the support of at least 90 per cent of Fiji’s Indians, refused to nominate representatives to fill four places reserved for Indians on the 12-member constitutional commission.
The parties believe the body will curtail their political rights.
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