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Yugoslavs Form ‘Crisis Committee’

May 10, 2000

BELGRADE, Yugoslavia (AP) _ Serbia’s opposition parties and the leading anti-government student group on Wednesday announced the formation of a ``crisis committee,″ to counter President Slobodan Milosevic’s increasing crackdown on his opponents.

``We have agreed to form a body to coordinate efforts and resources in defending our members and all citizens who get arrested by the authorities,″ for demanding democratic changes in the country, said Slobodan Djinovic, a leader of Otpor, or Resistance, the student organization spearheading efforts to oust Milosevic.

Slobodan Orlic of the opposition Social Democrats said all of the political opposition had approved formation of the crisis committee.

Orlic and Djinovic described the committee as a task force that would pool resources and manpower of all opposition groups to create a network of lawyers and activists who would organize strong protests and react swiftly to any harassment.

The agreement came after a massive display of force by police on Tuesday prevented the opposition from holding a protest rally in Milosevic’s hometown, Pozarevac. The police also arrested dozens of the president’s opponents as well as several independent journalists.

All of them were released hours after the opposition had canceled the rally.

Later Wednesday, about 2,000 protesters turned up in the central city of Kragujevac, at a demonstration called by Serbia’s opposition and Otpor, to demand early elections and the end of regime’s crackdown on independent media.

Another 500 opposition supporters also demonstrated in the southwestern Serbian town of Cacak.

No incidents were reported at either demonstration.

Milosevic met World War II veterans Tuesday and referred to the United States as a ``fascist power″ that wants to ``conquer the world″ with the help of domestic ``traitors.″

The Democrats and other allied opposition parties have scheduled a new protest for Monday, May 15, in the capital.

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