Hardline leader defeats Panic

THE Serbian radical nationalist leader, Vojislav Seselj, flexed his new-found political muscles yesterday, rallying Yugoslavia's parliament to pass a vote of no-confidence in the country's amiable Prime Minister, Milan Panic. It was Mr Seselj's second big political victory and Mr Panic's second humiliating defeat in a week.

The Chamber of Republics, the upper house of parliament, voted against Mr Panic by 30 votes to five only hours after the lower house, the Chamber of Citizens, passed a smiliar vote of no confidence by 95 votes to two with 12 abstentions. The vote signalled the end of Mr Panic's political career. Studio B, an independent televion station, said Radoje Kontic, a former Yugoslav vice- president, was named as acting prime minister until a new parliament is formed next month.

Mr Panic, a Yugoslav-American millionaire who became prime minister last July, was defeated in his bid for the Serbian presidency last week by the incumbent, Slobodan Milosevic. In November he had lost a similar confidence motion, but was saved when it was overturned by the upper chamber. After his defeat by Mr Milosevic, however, Mr Panic's advisers gave their boss little chance of surviving any new parliamentary moves against him.

Yesterday's nationalist legislative coup was less significant for marking the demise of Mr Panic than for underscoring the growing power of Mr Seselj, who has been accused of war crimes by the US. He emerged as a serious political force after his radical Serbian Party won the second-largest number of seats in Serbian parliamentary elections last week behind Mr Milosevic's Socialist Party. He is widely expected to join a coalition with Mr Milosevic in the new Serbian parliament, expected to convene next month.

A ruthless nationalist hardliner and paramilitary leader, Mr Seselj promised on Monday that he would oust Mr Panic, whom he has accused of treason and betrayal. During yesterday's session, Mr Seselj dominated the political stage and cajoled the lower house to support the no-confidence vote against a traitor whom he said 'demanded the occupation of the country' by insisting on allowing foreign forces in Yugoslavia. He also accused Mr Panic of stealing dollars 300,000 ( pounds 200,000) from the country during official visits to the United States, China, Germany and to Geneva for the Yugoslav peace talks. 'If you don't vote no confidence you are giving Mr Panic a chance to do even more damage,' he told the chamber.

Mr Seselj's habit of dividing Serbs into traitors or patriots is starting to worry liberal nationalist leaders. At a press conference yesterday, a centrist opposition leader, Vuk Draskovic, accused Mr Seselj of starting a witch-hunt since his electoral success. 'If you raise your voice to stop war and ask for peace you are accused of betraying Serbia,' he said, adding: 'There are people here who would not admit publicly that they love their mother; that they have two legs; that they are a member of the human race. To have to admit you love Serbia is not part of democracy, it is psychopathy.'

Many analysts believe Mr Seselj rose to political prominence precisely because of Western pressure on Serbs over the war in Bosnia. Western threats have only stiffened Serbian resistance to outside pressure and have helped Mr Seselj and Mr Milosevic to consolidate their positions with a fiery brand of nationalism that has managed to reduce political issues to a struggle between patriotism and treason.

'The West does not realise that it is bringing Seselj to us,' Milovan Perovic, an insurance executive, said. 'Whatever they do they reinforce the complex of a wounded lion.'

Monday's news that the US has warned Mr Milosevic of the military consequences of any 'destabilising acts' by Serbia in Kosovo is likely to be seen in the same light as other threats and will only strengthen nationalist resolve. Although there was no official comment on the reports, Tanjug news agency reported that Yugoslav army officers had met Mr Milosevic and the Yugoslav President, Dobrica Cosic, to discuss 'matters of national defence'.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksAn evocation of the conflict through the eyes of those who lived through it
Neil Warnock
football'New' manager for Crystal Palace
peopleGerman paper published pictures of 18-month-old daughter
Arts and Entertainment
'A voice untroubled by time': Kate Bush
musicKate Bush set to re-enter album charts after first conerts in 35 years
Angel Di Maria poses with Louis van Gaal after signing for Manchester United
Arts and Entertainment
BBC series 'Sherlock' scooped a hat-trick of awards on the night. Benedict Cumberbatch received the award for Actor, Miniseries or Movie ('Sherlock: His Last Vow') while Martin Freeman won the award for Supporting Actor, Miniseries or Movie. Neither actor was present to collect their awards
Life and Style
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
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

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Oracle DBA (Database Administrator, 10g, 11g, PL/SQL)

£45000 - £50000 Per Annum + £5k shift allowance, 12% bonus, benefits: Clearwat...

Cover Supervisor

£45 - £65 per day: Randstad Education Chester: Job Opportunities for Cover Sup...

IT Teacher September strt with view to permanent post

£110 - £130 per day + Competitive rates of pay: Randstad Education Reading: IT...

Qualified Nursery Nurse

Negotiable: Randstad Education Crawley: This independent Nursery is looking fo...

Day In a Page

Kate Bush, Hammersmith Apollo music review: A preamble, then a coup de théâtre - and suddenly the long wait felt worth it

Kate Bush shows a voice untroubled by time

A preamble, then a coup de théâtre - and suddenly the long wait felt worth it
Robot sheepdog technology could be used to save people from burning buildings

The science of herding is cracked

Mathematical model would allow robots to be programmed to control crowds and save people from burning buildings
Tyrant: Is the world ready for a Middle Eastern 'Dallas'?

This tyrant doesn’t rule

It’s billed as a Middle Eastern ‘Dallas’, so why does Fox’s new drama have a white British star?
Rachael Lander interview: From strung out to playing strings

From strung out to playing strings

Award-winning cellist Rachael Lander’s career was almost destroyed by the alcohol she drank to fight stage fright. Now she’s playing with Elbow and Ellie Goulding
The science of saturated fat: A big fat surprise about nutrition?

A big fat surprise about nutrition?

The science linking saturated fats to heart disease and other health issues has never been sound. Nina Teicholz looks at how governments started advising incorrectly on diets
Emmys 2014 review: Can they genuinely compete with the Oscars

Can they genuinely compete with the Oscars?

The recent Emmy Awards are certainly glamorous, but they can't beat their movie cousins
On the road to nowhere: A Routemaster trip to remember

On the road to nowhere

A Routemaster trip to remember
Hotel India: Mumbai's Taj Mahal Palace leaves its darker days behind

Hotel India

Mumbai's Taj Mahal Palace leaves its darker days behind
10 best pencil cases

Back to school: 10 best pencil cases

Whether it’s their first day at school, uni or a new project, treat the student in your life to some smart stationery
Arsenal vs Besiktas Champions League qualifier: Gunners know battle with Turks is a season-defining fixture

Arsenal know battle with Besiktas is a season-defining fixture

Arsene Wenger admits his below-strength side will have to improve on last week’s show to pass tough test
Pete Jenson: Athletic Bilbao’s locals-only transfer policy shows success does not need to be bought

Pete Jenson: A Different League

Athletic Bilbao’s locals-only transfer policy shows success does not need to be bought
This guitar riff has been voted greatest of all time

The Greatest Guitar Riff of all time

Whole Lotta Votes from Radio 2 listeners
Britain’s superstar ballerina

Britain’s superstar ballerina

Alicia Markova danced... every night of the week and twice on Saturdays
Berlin's Furrie invasion

Berlin's Furrie invasion

2000 fans attended Eurofeurence
‘It was a tidal wave of terror’

‘It was a tidal wave of terror’

Driven to the edge by postpartum psychosis