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Yugoslav Opposition Supporters Enter Parliament Building

Aired October 5, 2000 - 11:21 a.m. ET


ANDRIA HALL, CNN ANCHOR: We bring you back to our breaking news coverage of the story out of Yugoslavia, the capital Belgrade, where hundreds of thousands of demonstrators are standing in the streets.

BILL HEMMER, CNN ANCHOR: CNN International also with coverage here. Alessio Vinci, our Belgrade bureau chief, now in progress on our other network. Let's listen to Alessio and get the very latest now from Belgrade.


ALESSIO VINCI, CNN BELGRADE BUREAU CHIEF: Judging from his recent appearances, he probably would have called the demonstrators to peaceful demonstrations to keep this under control. However, obviously the events turn out to be a little bit different, and therefore, now Mr. Kostunica will have to rethink exactly how to use this public uprising to his advantage. Of course, there are -- there were a lot of people here who believe that the only way to convince President Milosevic that his term in office was over was through violent means since all legal attempts to remove President Milosevic from power have so far failed.

Back to you.

UNIDENTIFIED ANCHOR: Well, for all intents and purposes, the opposition is taking control of the parliament. This begs the question, where is Mr. Milosevic and what can he possibly do next?

VINCI: Well, we don't know where Mr. Milosevic is at this time. And, basically, we'll have to see what the next move of the opposition will be. There could be a situation where perhaps the opposition could try to ride this wave of unrest and try to continue further and perhaps occupy other state institutions.

On the other side, perhaps they will, opposition leader who have tried to keep this demonstration as much as possible -- this uprising as much as possible peaceful, they're trying to perhaps take a moment to rest, perhaps negotiate with the police, negotiate with other state bodies and see what will happen next.

One thing is very important to remind out viewers, I believe, is that Vojislav Kostunica, the opposition leader, has repeatedly said that this is not about Milosevic, this is about an election. And he said that his first priority, if he were to become president would not be to hand over President Milosevic over to The Hague or to any other international tribunal, that his first priority was to try to restore credibility and this country -- bringing this country back to Europe.

So certainly we should not see this as the fall of Milosevic, per se. We should see this as an attempt by the opposition to take over state institutions and eventually try to negotiate with those people who are in power today a transitional handover of power, because now obviously -- it is quite obvious that the people, at least, the majority of those people, are really willing to demonstrate.

We also have to stress out, this is happening in Belgrade. At this point, we don't have any reports about what is happening in other towns across Serbia. There are major opposition towns in the south and in the north from -- and Belgrade. We don't know exactly what is happening there. We don't know if protesters there are hearing what's happening here. Of course, state television has been in control of most of the airwaves here and the radio stations here. So it is quite difficult to see -- to know exactly what is happening in other towns. We'll have to see, perhaps, as the day progresses and as the evening arrives what the rest of the country will react, how the reaction of people outside of Belgrade will be.

JONATHAN AIKEN, CNN ANCHOR: Well, stand by, Alessio.

I'd like to bring in Evo Dalter (ph) who is with us from the Brookings Institution.

What do you make of this? This is not in the opposition's playbook today, apparently.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, this is the people basically deciding that when they vote in favor of a candidate and that candidate is not allowed to claim his rightful seat at the table of power, that they're going to take matters in their own hands, and they're going to take over the federal parliament, in fact, in order to determine that they have won, they have spoken, and if Mr. Milosevic doesn't like it, then they will move against him.

AIKEN: And doesn't this put the opposition in a rather strange position, too, because things may be advancing farther than they're prepared to accept them and tackle them?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Clearly what we're seeing is people power, in the phrase that came out in the Philippines in the late, mid 1980s. We see the people basically starting to take over and saying, it doesn't -- this is not about Kostunica versus Milosevic, this is about our right as the people who have voted on September 24, for one kind of government to be heard. And at the moment, they're not being heard. The constitutional court has decided that what they said on September 24 happened, the kind of votes that they made, that those were not valid. They have annulled the election. And that is what the people, it would appear, are now opposing, and saying, wait a minute, this is not how we're playing this game. The time is up, we've had 13 years of Milosevic, we need to start to see the kind of change that is necessary for this country to really move on.

AIKEN: What kind of options does Mr. Milosevic have at this point?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He has very few. I mean, he could try to crack down either using the police -- although, as we just heard, the police are starting to move away -- or using security forces or army. The real question is, will the security forces or the army do his bidding. It's becoming that important to determine who is going to win this fight. Is it going to be the people? And is the army, is the security forces going to side with the regime, or are they going to side with the people and say, Mr. Milosevic, we're not about to start shooting at Serbs.

AIKEN: All right, Evo Dalter from the Brookings Institution here in Washington, thanks very much indeed.

And our gratitude to our Belgrade bureau chief, Alessio Vinci, and to some very brave camera people for CNN outside the federal parliament building in Belgrade.

We're going to take a break. My name is Jonathan Aiken. This is "WORLD NEWS" from Washington. We will continue to keep you abreast of these development as they occur in Belgrade. Thank you very much for joining us.



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