Serbian Assembly sends Milosevic allies to YU's Upper Chamber

BELGRADE, May 4, 2000 -- (AFP) Serbia's parliament elected 20 allies of Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic on Wednesday to represent the republic in the upper chamber of the Yugoslav assembly.

The upper chamber consists of 20 deputies chosen from each of the parliaments of Serbia and Montenegro, the two republics partnered in the rump Yugoslavia. Deputies in the lower house are elected by popular vote.

The Serbian assembly elected nine members of Milosevic's Socialist party, nine from the Yugoslav Left party headed by his wife Mira Markovic, and two from the allied Serbian Radical party of ultranationalist Vojislav Seselj.

The vote was boycotted by deputies of the opposition Serbian Renewal Movement of Vuk Draskovic and coincided with an ongoing dispute between the Milosevic regime and the pro-reformist leadership of Montenegro.

Since 1998, Montenegrin deputies from the ruling coalition of President Milo Djukanovic have been prevented from taking their seats in the upper house by Milosevic allies.

But the party of Yugoslav Prime Minister Momir Bulatovic, Djukanovic's opponent in Montenegro and a close Milosevic ally, has kept its mandates in the chamber.

Following Wednesday's vote, Serbia's delegation along with Bulatovic's deputies hold two-thirds of the seats in the upper chamber, the same majority they hold in the lower house of the parliament.

The two-thirds majority in both chambers allows the bloc to take important decisions, such as changing the Yugoslav constitution.

Some observers believe Milosevic might use his control over parliament to push through a constitutional amendment allow him to stand for a second presidential term.

Under the current constitution, Milosevic may not run for a second term once his mandate expires in 2001.

Original article