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Milosevic Is Sole Candidate for Party Chief

November 22, 2000|From Associated Press

BELGRADE, Yugoslavia — Slobodan Milosevic was declared the only candidate for Socialist Party chief Tuesday, underlining the ousted strongman's desire for a political comeback.

The hard-line leadership nominated Milosevic as the sole candidate for party president when the Socialists meet Saturday in a special congress, said top party official Zivorad Igic. Milosevic's formal reelection to the post is expected then.

The decision indicates that Milosevic, who was ousted as Yugoslav president in a popular revolt last month after refusing to concede electoral defeat, still has a following among some party members, mostly hard-liners.

Several of the more moderate top Socialist leaders have quit the party in recent days, protesting Milosevic's desire to remain in politics, and disgruntled former Milosevic allies formed two separate pro-left parties this week.

On Monday night, Milosevic was shown on television urging resistance to the new pro-democracy authorities. It was his first TV appearance since Oct. 6, when he finally conceded defeat a day after Vojislav Kostunica's supporters stormed parliament and other government buildings.

The brief report showed a confident-looking Milosevic, who has been indicted on war crimes charges and accused by many in his country of bringing economic and social misery, calling on his close party associates to maintain unity.

"There are scenarios to destroy the state, to destroy the economy, to destroy the party because [the Socialist Party] is the only guarantee for the defense of the national interests," Milosevic said.

Party officials say the former president has been encouraged by the new government's inability to curb Yugoslavia's economic slide and by bickering among the forces that ousted him.

According to sources within the party, a document prepared and approved by Milosevic for the congress says the Socialists have a "big chance" of a comeback in the Dec. 23 parliamentary elections in Serbia, which is the dominant republic in Yugoslavia.

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