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December 11, 1995
. Vreme News Digest Agency No 219
Changes in Socialist Party of Serbia

Hung-up Phone

by Ivan Radovanovic

Slobodan Milosevic acted like a serious head of the family. He came back from his trip, introduced order and then simply let the frightened family members carry out whatever he had imagined. This can best be seen from the latest news which says that the Main Board of the Socialist Party of Serbia (SPS) in its meeting decided to carry out elections on all levels of the organization.

In other words, the developments are gradually taking the normal course. The Statute of the Socialist Party of Serbia, in which the word "party" is always written with a capital "p", prescribes that the Main Board may decide on elections in SPS; that the vote is secret, for one of several candidates; that the vote in local organizations may be open if the members decide so; and, what is particularly important, that the candidates to be elected in SPS bodies are proposed by SPS bodies themselves.

Thus, Milosevic, having returned from Dayton, shook the Main Board, cleaned up what had to be cleaned up, scolded whom he had to scold and withdrew peacefully. The rest will be done by itself. The Main Board will propose the candidates who suit the president of the party and Serbia for the head positions in the local, municipal and regional organizations of SPS. These people will be elected and SPS will go on as if nothing happened.

This is why everything that has been happening in SPS - dismissal of Borisav Jovic, Mihajlo Markovic and Milorad Vucelic, the latest warnings to Radovan Pankov and Slobodan Jovanovic, reduction of Minic's office, forthcoming elections -ought to be seen not only as the "boss's fancy" but also as part of a long an serious process.

Serbia's president made the most serious and important move by forming the Yugoslav United Left (JUL), a party headed by his wife and the chief ideologist of the new, peace option - Mira Markovic.

And just as one part of the opposition helped weaken and gradually push the other, nationalist part to the margin of the political scene, JUL helped gradually remove everything within SPS that was inappropriate for the new policy.

In addition to the terrific media promotion, JUL has the real information; it has been strengthened by people from SPS, Mira Markovic has been allowed to control some of the most influential media and now all that needs to be done for the job to be completed is to form "new force" within the Socialist Party itself.

Since the beginning of this year the Main Board has been expanded by some twenty new members and special attention has been paid to the special treatment of the "Young Socialists" - a solid base which will eventually give most of the outstanding leaders of the ruling party.

Those who were meant to be removed were unable to do anything in such circumstances. Or even worse, whatever they did was used against them. For example: the uninformed group including Milomir Minic, Milorad Vucelic, Radovan Pankov, Zoran Andjelkovic, Mihalj Kertes, Jovan Radic, etc. met late in the summer to discuss the increasing number of cases of "double membership" of some SPS members who had just joined JUL. The meeting was by no means unusual, which can be illustrated by the party positions of the participants - secretary general, president of MP group, president of the regional organization - the persons who frequently attend such meetings. The topic, too, was a usual one, since the SPS Statute clearly says that an SPS member cannot simultaneously be a member of another party. What later happened to the participants of the meeting resembles some examples from the history of the Soviet communist party of bolsheviks - they were accused of plotting against Milosevic in that very meeting.

All of the new team whose names were read to the Main Board by Milosevic, emerged a long time ago. Cabinet member Nikola Sainovic, Foreign Minister Milan Milutinovic, FRY President Zoran Lilic, Gorica Gajovic, Dragan Tomic, Serbian Premier Mirko Marjanovic, and ministers Branislav Ivkovic, Bosko Petrosevic, Jovan Babovic, were on the starting positions early this year (many of them as vice-presidents to the offices they now took over) and all they had to do was wait for the referee to signal the start. The arms and legs of their opponents were tied anyway.

It is important to say that, of all the above mentioned, the only one who perhaps realized what was going on was Borisav Jovic. Only a few days before the boss arrived from Dayton, he published the book titled "The Last Days of SFRJ." At the promotion of his book, Jovic who had in the past boasted that Milosevic never refused to receive him or to answer his phone call, said that there was no reason to further postpone the publishing of his version of the dramatic events. Perhaps Milosevic did hang up on him a few days before.

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