KFOR bars Milosevic foe, allies from Kosovo

BELGRADE, Sep 17, 2000 -- (Reuters) NATO-led KFOR peacekeepers on Friday barred a challenger to Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic in this month's presidential and parliamentary polls from entering Kosovo, his party said.

Vojislav Mihailovic, the opposition Serbian Renewal Movement presidential candidate, wanted to take his campaign for the September 24 elections to Kosovo, but was prevented from "touring our last remaining desperate people, churches and monasteries", a party statement said.

"KFOR's action is a gross violation of the UN Security Council's 1244 resolution and denial of the sovereignty of Yugoslavia over a part of its state territory," it added.

The resolution ended last year's NATO air strikes against Yugoslavia over the repression of Kosovo's majority ethnic Albanian population in return for the withdrawal of Yugoslav forces from the province and deployment of the peacekeepers.

The independent news agency Beta said KFOR also turned back officials from Milosevic's Socialist Party of Serbia from the administrative border between Kosovo and Serbia proper.

The Socialists were heading to the divided town of Kosovska Mitrovica for a promotional gathering, Beta said.

A KFOR spokesman said decisions on which Serb politicians would be allowed in and which rejected were made on assessment of the probable security risk and taken on a case by case basis.

Friday's ban followed an attack on Vojislav Kostunica, Milosevic's main challenger in countrywide elections, in Kosovska Mitrovica.

KFOR let Kostunica in on Thursday after a two-hour check at one of its posts, including body searches of Kostunica and all the officials and journalists who accompanied him.

Later on, Milosevic's supporters pelted Kostunica with rubbish during his rally. He was slightly hurt.

Milosevic's aides have said he would visit Kosovo himself ahead of the September 24 presidential and federal assembly election, but NATO has warned he would be arrested on suspicion of war crimes and removed to a tribunal in The Hague.

Earlier this month, Gorica Gajevic, a top official in Milosevic's party, campaigned in Kosovo without any problems.

The UN has said it has no plans to facilitate a Yugoslav election in Kosovo which it does not expect to be fair, but it will not stand in the way if the province's Serbian minority want to vote. NATO said it would provide security in case of threats by majority ethnic Albanians.

Original article