Gonzalez boosts Serb opposition

Poll observers' verdict lifts spirits after police block demonstrations

Belgrade - Anti-government demonstrators and riot police clashed in the Serbian capital Belgrade yesterday after Serbian opposition claims that it was robbed of recent local election victories gained important international backing.

Witnesses said police, some in plain clothes, used batons in street fights with the protesters, who jeered as they left the demonstration past cordons of riot police. At least one person was beaten unconscious, and a man who said he was walking home from a medical conference received an open head-wound, eyewitnesses said.

A mother and her 12-year-old daughter were slightly injured, and two foreign television crews had their cameras smashed. A reporter from the independent Radio Index said: "It seems riot police are intervening in response to jeering. No other provocation took place."

The former Spanish prime minister, Felipe Gonzalez, representing the Organisation for Co-operation and Security in Europe (OSCE), confirmed opposition victories over Slobodan Milosevic and his ruling Socialist party (SPS) in Belgrade and 14 other towns.

Soon after Mr Gonzalez announced his verdict in Geneva, the news spread to Belgrade and supporters of the opposition Zajedno (Together) coalition who were participating in the 38th day of protest marches.

The crowd of some 80,000 danced and cheered Mr Gonzalez's report, which added weight to mounting international demands that President Milosevic respect democracy.

Mr Gonzalez, who headed an OSCE mission to Belgrade this month, called on the 53-nation grouping to issue an "urgent appeal" to the authorities and political forces in Yugoslavia to "comply with the will expressed at the polls by the citizens". He said the authorities should accept opposition victories in 22 disputed municipalities, including nine in Belgrade.

Opposition leaders were sceptical that Mr Milosevic would respond to the Gonzalez report. "We do not expect him to accept the findings of this commission. We expect further escalation and aggravation of this political crisis," said Zoran Djindjic, leader of the opposition Democratic Party.

The official Tanjug news agency reported that Mr Gonzalez confirmed the SPS and its allies won a majority of the votes but did not refer to his endorsement of Zajedno victories.

Weeks of processions through the centre of Belgrade ended on Thursday when riot police cleared the streets and forced demonstrators back into a pedestrian square.

Despite international warnings to allow the marches to continue, the authorities also curtailed yesterday's march by the opposition coalition.

The Yugoslav Foreign Minister, Milan Milutinovic, said the OSCE had delivered a "balanced" report on the elections, but had confused some facts when it visited Belgrade.

Mr Milutinovic said the most important feature of the report was that it called for dialogue "within the framework of the system" and "discussion between the authorities and the opposition in parliament".

News
i100
News
Netherlands' goalkeeper Tim Krul fails to make a save from Costa Rica's midfielder Celso Borges during a penalty shoot-out in the quarter-final between Netherlands and Costa Rica during the 2014 FIFA World Cup
newsGoalkeepers suffer from 'gambler’s fallacy' during shoot-outs
News
people
Arts and Entertainment
Standing the test of time: Michael J Fox and Christopher Lloyd in 'Back to the Future'
filmReview: A week late, Secret Cinema arrives as interactive screening goes Back to the Future
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Travel
travel
Arts and Entertainment
Sydney and Melbourne are locked in a row over giant milk crates
artCultural relations between Sydney and Melbourne soured by row over milk crate art instillation
Arts and Entertainment
Adèle Exarchopoulos and Léa Seydoux play teeneage lovers in the French erotic drama 'Blue Is The Warmest Colour' - The survey found four times as many women admitting to same-sex experiences than 20 years ago
filmBlue Is The Warmest Colour, Bojack Horseman and Hobbit on the way
Arts and Entertainment
Preparations begin for Edinburgh Festival 2014
Edinburgh festivalAll the best shows to see at Edinburgh this year
News
Two giraffes pictured on Garsfontein Road, Centurion, South Africa.
i100
Environment
View from the Llanberis Track to the mountain lake Llyn
Du’r Arddu
environmentA large chunk of Mount Snowdon, in north Wales, is up for sale
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
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

Financial Accountants, Cardiff, £250 p/day

£180 - £250 per day + competitive: Orgtel: Financial Accountants - Key Banking...

Regulatory Reporting-MI-Bank-Cardiff-£300/day

£200 - £500 per day + competitive: Orgtel: I am currently working on a large p...

Recruitment Consultant - Bristol - Computer Futures - £18-25k

£18000 - £25000 per annum + Commission: SThree: Computer Futures are currently...

Trainee Recruitment Consultant - Real Staffing - Leeds - £18k+

£18000 - £27000 per annum + Commission: SThree: Sales - Trainee Recruitment Co...

Day In a Page

Dress the Gaza situation up all you like, but the truth hurts

Robert Fisk on Gaza conflict

Dress the situation up all you like, but the truth hurts
Save the tiger: Tiger, tiger burning less brightly as numbers plummet

Tiger, tiger burning less brightly

When William Blake wrote his famous poem there were probably more than 100,000 tigers in the wild. These days they probably number around 3,200
5 News's Andy Bell retraces his grandfather's steps on the First World War battlefields

In grandfather's footsteps

5 News's political editor Andy Bell only knows his grandfather from the compelling diary he kept during WWI. But when he returned to the killing fields where Edwin Vaughan suffered so much, his ancestor came to life
Lifestyle guru Martha Stewart reveals she has flying robot ... to take photos of her farm

Martha Stewart has flying robot

The lifestyle guru used the drone to get a bird's eye view her 153-acre farm in Bedford, New York
Former Labour minister Meg Hillier has demanded 'pootling lanes' for women cyclists

Do women cyclists need 'pootling lanes'?

Simon Usborne (who's more of a hurtler) explains why winning the space race is key to happy riding
A tale of two presidents: George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story

A tale of two presidents

George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story
Restaurateur Mitch Tonks has given the Great Western Pullman dining car a makeover

The dining car makes a comeback

Restaurateur Mitch Tonks has given the Great Western Pullman dining car a makeover
Gallery rage: How are institutions tackling the discomfort of overcrowding this summer?

Gallery rage

How are institutions tackling the discomfort of overcrowding this summer?
Louis van Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players

Eye on the prize

Louis van Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players
Women's rugby: Tamara Taylor adds fuel to the ire in quest to land World Cup

Women's rugby

Tamara Taylor adds fuel to the ire in quest to land World Cup
Save the tiger: The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

With only six per cent of the US population of these amazing big cats held in zoos, the Zanesville incident in 2011 was inevitable
Samuel Beckett's biographer reveals secrets of the writer's time as a French Resistance spy

How Samuel Beckett became a French Resistance spy

As this year's Samuel Beckett festival opens in Enniskillen, James Knowlson, recalls how the Irish writer risked his life for liberty and narrowly escaped capture by the Gestapo
We will remember them: relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War

We will remember them

Relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War
Star Wars Episode VII is being shot on film - and now Kodak is launching a last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Kodak's last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Director J J Abrams and a few digital refuseniks shoot movies on film. Simon Usborne wonders what the fuss is about
Once stilted and melodramatic, Hollywood is giving acting in video games a makeover

Acting in video games gets a makeover

David Crookes meets two of the genre's most popular voices