Alex KrugerMilosevic rival pelted in Kosovo
Thursday, 14 September, 2000
International peacekeeping troops in Kosovo have intervened to protect President Slobodan Milosevic's main opponent in the Yugoslav elections in 10 days' time.
Troops moved in to clear demonstrators who threw stones and rotten fruit and attacked cars in the town of Mitrovica, where the candidate, Vojislav Kostunica, was addressing a crowd of about 1,000 people.
Mr Kostunica's Democratic Opposition of Serbia party accused Mr Milosevic's supporters of orchestrating the trouble.
Correspondents say there has been surprisingly strong support in Kosovo for Mr Kostunica.
Only Serb areas of the province are due to take part in the voting. Opposition parties say supporters of Mr Milosevic are preparing to rig the vote in his favour.
Mr Kostunica was delayed for more than an hour as he tried to enter Kosovo, while checks were made by international peacekeeping troops who said he was not expected.
Mr Kostunica struck a nationalist note as he began campaigning.
"This is part of Serbia," Mr Kostunica said in Leposavic, the most northerly town in Kosovo.
Mr Kostunica is visiting the three main Serb towns in the north of the province ahead of the 24 September presidential and parliamentary elections.
"The worst evils and sufferings of the Serbs here are the fault of Slobodan Milosevic," he told a small crowd of Serbs.
Mr Milosevic says he too is planning to campaign in Kosovo, but K-For says it will detain him on war crimes charges if he tries.
Fearing revenge attacks by ethnic Albanians angry at years of Serb repression, about 180,000 Serbs have fled Kosovo for Serbia proper since Yugoslav forces withdrew from the province in June last year.
Kosovo has been under de facto international rule since last year's 78-day Nato bombing campaign against Serbia.
About 100,000 Serbs remain in Kosovo, many of them grouped together in heavily guarded enclaves, the largest of which is in northern Mitrovica.
"People in Kosovo are aware of what they have lost in these 10 years of Milosevic's rule. It is important to encourage people to stay there, to encourage them to bring the refugees back to Kosovo," Mr Kostunica said.
Separate local elections are due to be held in Kosovo on 28 October.
Leaders of Kosovo's majority Albanian population, who all advocate independence for the province, have condemned Yugoslav plans to hold elections there.