Main Serb opposition party to boycott parliament

BELGRADE, May 3, 2000 -- (Reuters) Serbia's main opposition party said it would boycott a Wednesday session of the Serbian parliament which would elect new federal Yugoslav deputies.

The decision clears the way for the ruling coalition of Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic to chose only its own members for the upper chamber of the federal parliament, where Serbia and Montenegro have 20 seats each, on Wednesday.

"Deputies of the Serbian Renewal Movement (SPO) will not take part in Wednesday's Serbian parliament session nor in any future sessions of either the Serb or the federal parliaments," SPO spokesman Ivan Kovacevic told reporters on Tuesday.

The SPO, the only opposition party with a significant representation in the Serbian parliament, started boycotting the parliament earlier this year in protest against the authorities' failure to find those responsible for the deaths of four party officials in a mysterious car crash last October.

The party blames the deaths on the state. The authorities have hotly denied any involvement.

The Serbian parliament is dominated by the ruling coalition - made up of the Socialist party of Milosevic, the ultra-nationalist Radical party and the Yugoslav Left of Milosevic's wife Mira Markovic.

Kovacevic said the exclusion of SPO deputies from the upper house of the federal parliament would not change anything because the ruling coalition dominated parliament anyway.

He said the ruling coalition "has done what it wanted anyway in this parliament, legalized state terrorism, legalized all types of repression in Serbia or, at the very least, refused to deal with this repression and terror".

Only early general elections would lead to democratic changes, Kovacevic said.

Milosevic has shown no sign of willingness to agree to the opposition's demand for early elections, first raised last January.

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