Serbian opposition split over candidate

Sunday, 6 August, 2000

The opposition Serbian Renewal Movement (SPO) has named a candidate to challenge Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic in elections due next month, throwing plans for a united opposition challenge into disarray.
The decision has been made before a meeting due on Monday of 16 opposition parties, where a joint candidate was due to be nominated.
A single candidate is widely seen as the only way the opposition can hope to prevent Mr Milosevic from winning a second term of office.
SPO leader Vuk Draskovic has made it clear that if the other parties do not back the SPO's Vojislav Mihajlovic for the presidency, it will lead to a split in the opposition ranks.
However, most other parties have said they would prefer to back another candidate, Vojislav Kostunica of the Democratic Party of Serbia, in the presidential race.

Yugoslavia's ruling party has already confirmed President Milosevic as its official candidate.

Military pedigree
Mr Mihajlovic, a 48-year-old lawyer with no strong political background, is best known as the grandson of a famous Serb general, Dragoslav Mihajlovic.
General Dragoslav led the nationalist Chetnik movement during World War II and was shot for treason after the war under President Josip Broz Tito's Communist regime.
"I hope that I will be the candidate of the entire opposition, because it gives us a chance to confront Milosevic on equal basis," Mr Mihajlovic said.
The SPO has previously said it would boycott the elections.
Mr Draskovic has not been attending the SPO meeting in Belgrade, following what he says was an attempt on his life in the Montenegrin town of Budva on 15 June, which left him with minor head injuries.
He said "state-backed terrorists were waiting for him" on Serb territory, and he would not travel to Belgrade.

New system
Voters across Yugoslavia - which comprises Serbia and Montenegro - will vote on 24 September in parliamentary and presidential elections.
It will be the first time the Yugoslav president will be elected by a simple majority of the popular vote, instead of by the federal parliament.
Under the new constitution, federal parliament deputies will also be elected by popular vote, instead of by separate assemblies in Montenegro and Serbia. Critics say it will make it easier for Mr Milosevic to push for candidates loyal to him.
Some opposition parties in Montenegro have said they will boycott the poll.
Local elections in Serbia only will be held on the same day.

Original article