Defeated Panic says poll was rigged

THE DEFEATED Serbian presidental challenger, Milan Panic, yesterday denounced the landslide electoral victory of the nationalist incumbent, Slobodan Milosevic, as a fraud.

Mr Panic announced he was staying on in Serbia to remain at the helm of parties opposed to Mr Milosevic's government. 'I am not accepting the results,' he said. 'They were so full of irregularities that in any legal state they would be annulled.' He demanded fresh elections in 90 days, 'or at the latest by May next year'.

Mr Panic apeared to have recovered from the initial shock following the first results, which awarded Mr Milosevic a convincing victory in the contest for the Serbian presidency, and which suggested the ruling Socialists will remain the largest party in the Serbian parliament.

In relaxed and combative mood, Mr Panic dismissed talk of packing his bags and returning to the United States, where he made a fortune in the pharmaceuticals business before returning earlier this year to take up the largely symbolic post of Yugoslav Prime Minister.

He said he planned to provide leadership for the country's disunited opposition parties. 'I am going to work within the system,' he added. But he left open the question of whether he wished to retain his current post, as federal Prime Minister. 'What's the good of remaining Prime Minister if you have not got any power?' he asked.

During the past few months, Mr Panic's influence on events practically evaporated, as Serbia's ruling Socialists joined forces in parliament with the ultra-nationalist Radical Party to try to remove him from office. The new federal parliament, expected to be dominated by Socialists and Radicals, is likely to sack him soon after it meets.

While Mr Panic spoke, Vuk Draskovic, one of the leaders of Depos, the largest opposition coalition, said his supporters recognised Mr Panic as the real president of Serbia. 'The election was rigged to the last detail,' he said. 'It cannot be accepted and will not be accepted by any democrat in Serbia. As far as democratic Serbia is concerned, Panic is president.'

Mr Draskovic went on to accuse the ruling Socialists of carrying out a number of dirty tricks. He said that they had confiscated ballot boxes and substituted new ones on the night after the election. Addressing the biggest shock in the results - the huge showing for the Radical Party, led by Vojislav Seselj - he said: 'For a fascist party in Serbia to get six times as many votes as a similar party got in Croatia is the biggest scandal of all, for Serbia and for its traditions'.

The latest, incomplete, results awarded Mr Milosevic 56 per cent of the votes and Mr Panic only 35 per cent.

Alongside what looks like a landslide in the presidential race, the Socialists, led by Mr Milosevic, are on course to remain the largest party in Serbia's parliament.

The Radical Party, which backs Mr Milosevic, may emerge as the second-largest party in the parliament, confirming evidence of a drastic swing in the electorate towards extreme nationalism.

The aggressive stance adopted by Mr Draskovic towards the election results made it clear that Serbia is headed for more internal confrontation and instability in the new year.

Instead of clearing up, once and for all, who is in charge of the country, the election and the accusations of fraud that surrounded the vote have only sharpened tension between the government and its opponents.

The biggest immediate uncertainty concerns the future of the Yugoslav President, Dobrica Cosic. An old-time nationalist who wields considerable influence among ordinary Serbs, Mr Cosic threatened to resign if a more flexible and democratic regime did not replace Mr Milosevic after the elections.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Voices
Barn owls are among species that could be affected
charity appeal
News
Sarah Silverman (middle) with sister Reform Rabbi Susan Silverman (right) and sister actress Laura Silverman (left) at Jerusalem's Western Wall for feminist Hanuka candle-lighting ceremony
peopleControversial comedian stages pro-equality Hanukkah lighting during a protest at Jerusalem's Wailing Wall
Arts and Entertainment
The Bach Choir has been crowned the inaugural winner of Sky Arts’ show The Great Culture Quiz
arts + ents140-year-old choir declared winner of Sky Arts' 'The Great Culture Quiz'
Sport
After another poor series in Sri Lanka, Alastair Cook claimed all players go through a lean period
cricketEoin Morgan reportedly to take over ODI captaincy
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Finance Director

£65000 - £80000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Finance Director required to jo...

Recruitment Genius: Medico-Legal Assistant

£15000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a unique opportunity fo...

Ashdown Group: (PHP / Python) - Global Media firm

£50000 per annum + 26 days holiday,pension: Ashdown Group: A highly successful...

The Jenrick Group: Quality Inspector

£27000 per annum + pension + holidays: The Jenrick Group: A Quality Technician...

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans appeal: 'You look for someone who's an inspiration and try to be like them'

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Could cannabis oil reverse the effects of cancer?

Could cannabis oil reverse effects of cancer?

As a film following six patients receiving the controversial treatment is released, Kate Hilpern uncovers a very slippery issue
The Interview movie review: You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here

The Interview movie review

You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here
Serial mania has propelled podcasts into the cultural mainstream

How podcasts became mainstream

People have consumed gripping armchair investigation Serial with a relish typically reserved for box-set binges
Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up for hipster marketing companies

Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up

Kevin Lee Light, aka "Jesus", is the newest client of creative agency Mother while rival agency Anomaly has launched Sexy Jesus, depicting the Messiah in a series of Athena-style poses
Rosetta space mission voted most important scientific breakthrough of 2014

A memorable year for science – if not for mice

The most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
Christmas cocktails to make you merry: From eggnog to Brown Betty and Rum Bumpo

Christmas cocktails to make you merry

Mulled wine is an essential seasonal treat. But now drinkers are rediscovering other traditional festive tipples. Angela Clutton raises a glass to Christmas cocktails
5 best activity trackers

Fitness technology: 5 best activity trackers

Up the ante in your regimen and change the habits of a lifetime with this wearable tech
Paul Scholes column: It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves

Paul Scholes column

It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves
Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Club World Cup kicked into the long grass by the continued farce surrounding Blatter, Garcia, Russia and Qatar
Frank Warren column: 2014 – boxing is back and winning new fans

Frank Warren: Boxing is back and winning new fans

2014 proves it's now one of sport's biggest hitters again
Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas