Milosevic ally's posturing exposes cracks in coalition

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The Independent Online

Amid signs of shifting allegiances behind the stony edifice of Slobodan Milosevic's regime, one of the Yugoslav leader's key ultranationalist allies yesterday demanded the sacking of a key presidential aide indicted as a war criminal.

Amid signs of shifting allegiances behind the stony edifice of Slobodan Milosevic's regime, one of the Yugoslav leader's key ultranationalist allies yesterday demanded the sacking of a key presidential aide indicted as a war criminal.

Vojislav Seselj, leader of the Serbian Radical Party, which holds 83 seats in the 250-seat Serbian parliament, said he would insist on dismissal of the Interior Minister, Vlajko Stojiljkovic, because of alleged corruption, misuse of authority and incompetence.

Like Mr Milosevic, Mr Stojiljkovic was indicted last year by the UN war crimes tribunal, accused of atrocities during the Kosovo conflict.

Mr Seselj stopped short of threatening that his party will quit the coalition if Mr Stojiljkovic keeps his job, but he said next week they would begin a new parliamentary alliance with the Serbian Renewal Party, led by Vuk Draskovic, which holds 45 seats, in a move designed to add to the pressure on Mr Milosevic. And in a marked shift from his earlier criticism of the 18-party opposition alliance, Mr Seselj said all evidence pointed to Vojislav Kostunica's election victory, and he had already congratulated him.

"Even if Slobodan Milosevic were the best person in the world, people would get bored with him after 13 years in power," said Mr Seselj.

And an anonymous interview with a former senior police officer, by the independent Belgrade Media Centre, gave a glimpse of the extent to which the machinery of the Yugoslav state has been destabilised by the uncertainty surrounding the election.

"In case of an order to disperse a citizens' rally, I believe the police will start carrying out [the regime's] orders," said the man. "But bearing in mind the enormous energy of the citizens, the police will side with the people in case of a conflict. The mood of the police indicates such an outcome.

"Eighty per cent of the police voted for the Serbian democratic opposition and for Vojislav Kostunica."

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