Panic demands Serbian election

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The Independent Online
YUGOSLAVIA'S federal Prime Minister, Milan Panic, plunged the dagger deeper into his opponent, the President of Serbia, Slobodan Milosevic, yesterday, as he called on him to resign and demanded fresh elections in Serbia before the end of the year.

The call came as the reformist Prime Minister unveiled a plan to solve ethnic tensions in the troubled Serbian province of Kosovo, where unrest by ethnic Albanians threatens to explode into widespread violence. Thousands of ethnic Albanians yesterday clashed with Serbian riot police at a demonstration over education in the province's capital, Pristina. The police used tear-gas and batons to disperse protesters outside the university. Belgrade Radio reported wounded on both sides.

But Mr Panic announced he would go tomorrow to meet Albanian leaders in Pristina to win them over to the cause of peace and democracy. 'I am going with a helping hand,' said Mr Panic, who promised to open the doors of Kosovo schools and colleges to ethnic Albanians, who make up 90 per cent of the province's 2 million population.

The Kosovo mission appeared to be part of a deliberate strategy to unseat Mr Milosevic, who has made the suppression of ethnic Albanian grievances a leitmotif of his career.

Mr Panic declared he would press on with plans to stage fresh elections in Serbia before the end of the year. Asked whether Mr Milosevic should resign for the good of the country, he answered: 'Yes'.

The simmering dispute between the federal and the Serbian leaders on how to solve the crisis caused by war and international sanctions has spilt over into a public war of words, in the national media. The federal government yesterday accused Mr Milosevic of 'preferring cannons to talks', after Serbia boycotted a new Yugoslav-Croatian committee set up to clear away obstacles to the mutual diplomatic recognition of the two states. It also accused Serbia of scheming for international sanctions against Croatia out of malice, and of subscribing to the logic that 'what is worse for Croatia must be good for us'.

The federal government said Serbia had no right to cite the plight of Serbian refugees from Croatia to boycott talks with Croatia, 'because the Serbian authorities have done more to create the problem of refugees than they have to solve it'. Earlier this week, Mr Milosevic made a rare appearance on Serbian television, and complained that the federal prime minister was an American agent.

ZAGREB - A UN passenger plane was shot at on Monday on its approach to Sarajevo, a bullet going through the cockpit, almost hitting the navigator, according to the United Nations Protection Force, Reuter reports. It was the third such incident in two weeks.