Milosevic party says he will win first poll round

BELGRADE, Aug 11, 2000 -- (Reuters) The ruling Socialist Party said on Thursday it expected Slobodan Milosevic to win a new term as Yugoslav president in the first round of elections due in September.

"No other candidate can seriously threaten Milosevic ... It is unrealistic to expect a second round of elections," Yugoslav Deputy Prime Minister Nikola Sainovic, a senior party official, was quoted as saying by independent B2-92 radio.

"Milosevic will win in the first round of elections, which will not be monitored by OSCE (Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe) or observers from countries which bombed Yugoslavia," B2-92 quoted Sainovic as telling a news conference. Opposition parties, which have rallied around moderate nationalist Vojislav Kostunica, are pinning their hopes on a second round between him and Milosevic, saying that will be a clear referendum on the future of Yugoslavia.

They say the presence of several other candidates with a lower profile than Kostunica in the first round will muddy the picture and split the anti-Milosevic vote.

Vojislav Seselj, leader of ultra-nationalist Serbian Radical Party, told a news conference on Thursday his party saw its candidate as the winner. The Radicals put forward vice-president Tomislav Nikolic to run in the election.

"If Tomislav Nikolic does not win in the first round we expect him to win in the second round," Seselj told reporters.

The largest single opposition party, the Serbian Renewal Movement, has proposed Belgrade Mayor Vojislav Mihajlovic over the protests of the other parties, which are still urging it to withdraw Mihajlovic and join them in backing Kostunica.

Milovan Drecun, former military reporter for Serbian state television and ex-member of the ruling Socialists, said on Thursday he would join the presidential race.

After NATO's 78-day air war on Yugoslavia last year, Milosevic decorated Drecun for brave reporting from Kosovo.

Original article