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Saturday, October 2, 1999 Published at 07:27 GMT 08:27 UK

World: Europe

Crackdown on Serbian opposition

Opposition supporters demand President Milosevic's resignation

The Serbian authorities have taken action to crush anti-government protests after two nights of violent clashes between police and demonstrators.

Nenad Sebak in Belgrade: "Opposition want to turn up the heat"
Opposition leaders say they have been banned from holding further marches in the capital, Belgrade.

Supporters are planning to defy the government by organising another protest on Saturday night.

(Click here for an at-a-glance guide to the Serbian opposition)

Demonstrations earlier in the week were violently broken up by riot police using tear gas, batons and water cannon.

And the public prosecutor has begun legal proceedings which could lead to arrest warrants being served on members of the opposition group Alliance for Change.

Leader walks free

On Friday, around 10,000 demonstrators made the short walk from Republic Square to the Alliance for Change headquarters to rescue a leader threatened with arrest.

[ image: Protestors carry an effigy of Serbian Prime Minister Mirko Marjanovic]
Protestors carry an effigy of Serbian Prime Minister Mirko Marjanovic
Police surrounded the group's headquarters in Belgrade after Thursday's clashes.

They said they wanted to arrest opposition leader Cedomir Jovanovic who was reportedly barricaded inside the building along with other opposition figures. But supporters escorted him out of the building and opposition sources said police made no attempt to seize him.

The Alliance for Change had called on supporters to converge in cars and cause gridlock in the upper-class suburb where President Slobodan Milosevic's home and the presidential palace are located.

But security near Mr Milosevic's house had been stepped up and routes to the neighbourhood were blocked by hundreds of riot police.

Despite attempts to evade police checkpoints by taking buses, only a handful of supporters reached Mr Milosevic's road.

The group has staged a series of mass opposition rallies since the Kosovo conflict ended.

The Serbian Renewal Movement, headed by opposition veteran Vuk Draskovic, has not joined the protests so far, insisting that the current protests could trigger civil war in Serbia.

Serbian Opposition at a Glance

(Click here to return)

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