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INDEPENDENT: Serbia is still haunted by the ghost of Slobodan Milosevic

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  • D Mitrovic
    http://www.independent.co.uk/story.jsp?story=338306 THE INDEPENDENT (London) 01 October 2002 Serbia is still haunted by the ghost of Slobodan Milosevic The
    Message 1 of 1 , Oct 1, 2002
      http://www.independent.co.uk/story.jsp?story=338306

      THE INDEPENDENT (London)
      01 October 2002


      Serbia is still haunted by the ghost of Slobodan
      Milosevic

      The results of the first round of Serbia's
      presidential election have produced two achievements
      and a warning. The first achievement is that the
      election was held at all and that, in the judgement of
      official observers, it conformed largely to
      international standards. – no mean feat in a region so
      recently riven by conflict.

      The second achievement is that the two candidates who
      have qualified for the second-round run-off in two
      weeks – the Yugoslav President, Vojislav Kostunica,
      and the pro-Western economist, Miroljub Labus – are
      both avowed democrats. Their rivalry reflects the
      collapse of the reform coalition that toppled Slobodan
      Milosevic, but it also gives Serbia's voters a genuine
      choice on 13 October between Western-style economic
      reform and a more gradual, nationally orientated
      programme.

      The warning is contained in the unexpectedly strong
      showing by the out-and-out nationalist candidate,
      Vojislav Seselj. Mr Seselj – who received the backing
      of Mr Milosevic from his cell at the UN war crimes
      tribunal in The Hague – came third, with more than 20
      per cent of the vote. And while two in three Serbian
      voters supported the two main democratic candidates,
      two in three also supported candidates of a more
      nationalist stamp.

      Many of those who supported Mr Seselj are now expected
      to vote for Mr Kostunica in two weeks' time, ensuring
      his victory. Mr Kostunica campaigned not only for
      slower reform than the Serbian government has been
      attempting, but against bowing to "diktat" from the
      West. His election would trigger a potentially
      damaging conflict with the pro-Western prime minister
      of Serbia, Zoran Djindjic – a conflict that would only
      be exacerbated by Mr Djindjic's backing for the
      presidential candidacy of Mr Labus.

      The warning is thus not only that the struggle for
      market-oriented reform in Serbia is likely to become
      sharper before it is resolved, slowing much-needed
      progress, but that the nationalist sentiment to which
      Mr Milosevic appealed with such destructive effect
      still has plenty of adherents. Mr Milosevic has been
      overthrown and put on trial, but Serbia has not yet
      vanquished the forces from which he derived his power.


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