Serbian president still in hospital

BELGRADE, Apr 18, 2000 -- (Reuters) Serbian President Milan Milutinovic's health has stabilized since he underwent heart surgery last week but he did not leave hospital at the weekend as expected, a newspaper said on Monday.

"Milutinovic was supposed to have left the clinic at the weekend. However, yesterday afternoon he was still in the clinic," the Danas daily said, quoting "unofficial sources".

"A paramedic on the president's floor said he could not issue information on Milutinovic's health and told us to wait for an official report of the medical team," it added.

The official Tanjug news agency which said Milutinovic had undergone a "planned" heart operation at the Dedinje clinic and was recovering well. There have been no official reports since.

Danas earlier reported that Milutinovic had had a triple bypass operation after a heart attack. A source close to Milutinovic confirmed the heart attack to Reuters.

If Milutinovic had to step down over ill health, elections would follow which could weaken Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic who holds ultimate power in today's two republic Yugoslav federation, which is dominated by Serbia.

Under Serbia's constitution the parliament would step in for a maximum of two months pending early presidential elections, something Serbia's opposition has been demanding for months, along with a parliamentary ballot.

On Friday the opposition joined forces to renew their demand at a rally in Belgrade, which attracted a huge crowd. Officials said however, that they saw no reason to bring forward the elections. The presidential poll is due in 2002 and the parliamentary one in 2001.

Milutinovic and Milosevic, along with three other top officials, have been indicted by a UN war crimes tribunal in the Hague for alleged atrocities their forces committed in the Kosovo conflict in 1998-1999.

Original article