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Crisis 1999
News Archive 1999

150,000 on the streets in Belgrade

BELGRADE, Thursday -- Opposition leaders told a crowd of 150,000 protesters in Belgrade tonight that Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic must be replaced for the survival of Serbia. Speakers warned that if the government did not step down within fifteen days, Serbia would take to the streets, not only in Belgrade but throughout the country. The protest rally in front of the federal parliament began about 19.30. A tear gas bomb was thrown into the ground early in the evening, but the ensuing panic was brought under control, without injuries. Other disruptive incidents during the evening were also quickly brought under control. Demonstrators carried anti- government placards and shouted slogans. Democratic Party leader Zoran Djindjic told the crowd they could choose Milosevic or Serbia and there was no other solution. What the people needed most, said Djindjic, was not any particular politician but change itself. He described Serbs as being united by all being hostages to Milosevic. Co-author of the Pact for the Stability of Serbia, Mladjen Dinkic, warned that there was no time to wait, because it would take Serbia forty or fifty years to get back to where it was ten years ago. Dinkic called on Serbs to unite for freedom and the formation of a transitional government which would finally strip Milosevic of power. The charismatic leader of the Serbian Renewal Movement, Vuk Draskovic, made a surprise appearance after earlier announcements that he would not attend. Draskovic called for the opposition to cooperate with the current regime, saying that the opposition must win power in elections, not in the streets. A large number of protesters left the rally after Draskovic's speech. Another co-author of the Pact for Stability, Predrag Markovic, was the final speaker, urging "Long live a reasonable Serbia!"

Source: B92

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