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Kostunica faces Serbian defiance.

Supporters of Slobodan Milosevic struck back yesterday against attempts to drive them out of power in Serbia, announcing they were reimposing control over police and resisting attempts to cleanse the top military leadership.

A senior member of Mr Milosevic's Socialist party, Branislav Ivkokic, said Serbia's pro-Milosevic prime minister Mirko Marjanovic was taking control of the 100,000 strong police force.

Serbia is the dominant Yugoslav republic, where more than 90 per cent of Yugoslavs live. Whoever controls Serbia, effectively controls Yugoslavia.

Mr Marjanovic and other members of Serbia's pro-Milosevic government have been resisting efforts from those supporting newly-elected Yugoslav President Vojislav Kostunica to leave positions of authority.

Mr Kostunica is president of Yugoslavia, made up both of Serbia and much smaller Montenegro.

In a further defiant note, Mr Ivkovic effectively said Mr Kostunica's people lack authority to make decisions affecting Serbia. He said decisions of 'legal bodies' on the Serbian - not Yugoslav - level will be respected.

In another rebuff to Mr Kostunica, senior generals warned against the 'negative consequences' of moves to purge military appointed by Mr Milosevic.

The developments signalled a serious setback to attempts by the pro-democracy forcers around Mr Kostunica to impose full authority over key levels of power in Yugoslavia.

'This government is the only power to bring about legal decisions,' Mr Ivkovic said.

Earlier, the Serbian parliament agreed to elections in December, instead of 2001, when the term of the present government would normally have ended. The Serbian president's term ends in 2002.

Mr Ivkovic again said that talks with Mr Kostunica's people would resume only after the end of 'illegal actions and violence' against the citizens of Serbia - shorthand for the growing takeovers of state companies by the pro-democracy camp.
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Publication:The Birmingham Post (England)
Date:Oct 12, 2000
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