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November 10, 1996
. Vreme News Digest Agency No 266
Elections Aftermath

Milosevic in the Role of Kontic

by Aleksandar Ciric

After the convincing victory of the left coalition in the elections, Slobodan Milosevic can, completely relaxed, choose his future function within the federation - if, of course, he wishes to move to the federal level.

Several options are at Milosevic's disposition. First of all, he can become the President of Yugoslavia. There should be no obstacles since the President of the Republic is elected by the Federal Assembly (and may be revoked only if and when the Federal Assembly proves he has violated the Constitution). The disadvantage of this option is that the President of the Republic has no substantial power - the job's specification includes representing Yugoslavia in the country and abroad, promotion of federal laws by decrees, proposing candidates for the federal Prime Minister, federal judges and governor of the National Bank of Yugoslavia, promoting ambassadors, awarding medals, granting amnesties... That is why the local and international public speculates at large with the possibility that the Federal Parliament modifies the Constitution and extends the powers of the President of the Republic. The Federal Constitution can be changed only through the two thirds majority, and the coalition SPS-JUL-ND and the Montenegrin DPS, according to the currently available electoral results (still unofficial in the moment of writing of this text), has gained 85 out of totally 138 seats in the House of Citizens, and the two-thirds majority requires 93 votes. It probably would not be a problem to gather the necessary majority for the change of the Constitution, but Milosevic does not have to tinker with it all. Namely, there is a less complicated way to overtake the real power in the federation, and completely legally - it resides in deciding to take the position of the Federal Prime Minister. Although his conduct does not show it, the authorization of Radoje Kontic, the President of the Federal Government is enormous (the Constitution stipulates the chancellor model of the executive power). The Prime Minister manages the operations of the Federal Government, and under the authorization of the government is the power to create and conduct the entire internal and external policy, to recommend federal laws, to create decrees, establish and dismantle ministries and set their domain, to post and revoke federal officials and - which may prove of extreme importance - to pronounce the occurrence of an immediate war danger, the state of war or the martial law when the Federal Assembly "is not in a position to hold its meetings". During the mentioned states or dangers, the government is authorized to enforce the acts from the domain of the Assembly's authorization, and can limit the freedoms and rights of citizens. The government orders general mobilization and prepares defence, but - and this is where a dispute might arise - the section of the Constitution about the Army of Yugoslavia says that the commander of the Army in war and in peace is the President of the Republic. He fulfills this function conforming to the decisions of the Supreme Defense Council (consisting of the president of Yugoslavia and the presidents of the republics) where the Prime Minister has no voice.

The important authorizations of the Government include also the power to dismiss the Federal Assembly (if it is prevented from fulfilling its authorization stipulated by the Constitution).

Anyway, the Government and the Prime Minister are responsible for their operations to the Assembly.

Up to the elections there was a dilemma whether Milosevic, as the President of the Yugoslav Government, would have a stable majority in the Assembly, because there is a slight chance that he would take the position at which it may happen to him not to be able to push a law through, or - even worse - that confidence in him becomes questioned. The results of the elections considerably eliminate the dilemma. Of course, under the condition that the Montenegrin DPS is further considered the loyal partner and that Montenegro agrees with the coming of Milosevic to the function of the Prime Minister (in which case this republic would gain the position of the President of Yugoslavia, because those two positions can not be occupied by the individuals from the same republic).

From the real-political point of view, the crucial question is if the interest of federal entities, especially the powerful Serbia, is to strengthen Yugoslavia, or if both sides are satisfied with the situation in which the real power resides within republics. It probably is not unimportant whether it is always spoken about Yugoslavia within JUL, but here it must be noted that JUL has not succeeded to fortify itself in Montenegro.

If Milosevic transfers to a federal function, that will in fact represent the legalization of his current impact on the policy of SRY, but will also mean the strengthening of the federal state, which has not been the primary subject of interest of either of the federal entities. If, however, Milosevic wishes to remain the President of Serbia, the legal ways to achieve this will certainly be invented in the forthcoming republic elections (March 1997 is mentioned in this context), although it would be his third run, on which, according to the Constitution, he has no right. However, here would probably be used the argument that his first mandate was not entirely used up due to the premature elections in 1992, so he could run for the office again. In that case the federation would remain a fictitious term and the republics would behave in the same way as up to now. Just as a reminder, Slobodan Milosevic as the leader of Serbia, has super-presidential powers - he commands the army in war and in peace, prepares defence, announces mobilization and martial war, appoints and discharges the generals of MUP, creates the international policy of Serbia, dismisses the Assembly and the Government, promulgates laws, vetoes them, names the mandators of the Government - and he could be revoked only if the majority of the electorate in Serbia votes so.

Some analysts question whether Milosevic would dare to leave a function with such power to someone else, but judging from the way he has ruled so far, he would choose his successor very carefully, the one that would never even conceive in his mind the idea to use the power. In short, the power will be where Milosevic is, and not vice versa.

Roksanda Nincic


Human Rights: Criminal Procedure


The Law and the Club


The police are not only retaining certain judiciary authorization, they even extend them using certain loopholes in the law


The natural state of human rights in a police state of the kind that the readers of Vreme are honored and obliged to live in is easy to describe. It is that in which an accidental policeman starts beating you with a club or a baseball bat, you lift your arms to protect your head, and from the legal papers it comes out the reason that the beaten (i.e., you, personally) "has prevented the officer in performing his duty".

In his interview with Vreme, Momcilo Grubac, the professor of criminal and procedural law at the University of Novi Sad, points out that among the experts there are none that consider the present situation as being good or that it should be improved by expending the repressive authorization of the police. "The explosion of criminal acts occurred some ten years ago with the enactment of the current law on criminal procedure, although in an incomparably milder form than this which we witness today. Meanwhile, former SFRY has fallen apart, the Constitution from 1992 was brought and with it the obligation of the Federal Assembly to harmonize the laws with the new constitution. At the end of this year all deadlines will expire, and the job is still waiting to be done: Meanwhile, more time was spent on weddings and feasts than on the job."

The work group of the Federal Assembly whose member is professor Grubac, has prepared the draft of the new law on criminal procedure for the session scheduled for several weeks ago, but it has been undergraded by the unauthorized and informal body of court and state officials held in Milocer: it was said that the draft badly smells of rotten liberalism. Not wishing to elaborate on the story, Momcilo Grubac says that the problem can be brought down to the question of the allocation of power, set by the Constitution of SRY from 1992 and the "uniform power" set by the Constitution from 1974 which is the basis of not only the current law on criminal procedure but also of police practice whose black side he illustrated by the report of the Fund for Humanitarian Rights.

"From 'unity' evolved some court authorizations of the police which it now not only retains but - taking the advantage of accidental or deliberate omissions of the republic's legislature -expands through the law about the organization and operation of the service of internal affairs whose key stipulations are conflicting with the current federal Constitution. Or, more accurately," adds Grubac, "with the Constitution which was practically put out of force a month after it was promulgated in April of 1992 by the constitutional law on application of the existing laws until their harmonization with the new constitution." The consequence is, all the participants at the round table agreed, the total disintegration of the legal system and the confusion that -premeditated or accidental, it does not matter from the point of view of the present consequences and their impact on the future -lasts for already five years, and whose solution depends on the question of the ratio of political forces in the federal Assembly, the intensity of love among the federal states of Serbia and Montenegro, i.e., the ratio in the "parliamentary" bargaining on for how long they will extend the deadlines long past.

For this reason it is not strange that the practical implication of the talks concerned the uttermost (miss)use and expansion of the police authorization. The lawyer Borivoje Borovic excused himself for being late for the meeting due to the fact that at a central hearing which he had attended as a defense attorney the same individual impersonated the MUP employee, the private lawyer and, to top it all, the court expert. The authorizations that the police assigns, arrogates or extends to itself, are evident also from the "operationalization" of the regulation which says that the control of the private communication of citizens (in short: tapping, mail violation and the like) is the procedure that can be ordered only by the court. In practice, the constitutional regulation is bypassed by the Serbian law, assigning the privilege of bringing such decisions to the president of the Supreme Court (and, for some reason, not also to the president of the Constitutional court), upon the proposal of the public attorney of the republic or - the republic's Minister of the Police. In short, the Minister Sokolovic is authorized to approve to himself that his service (the police) taps the citizens at its own free estimation and as long as he wishes to. And not only the citizens of Serbia, stressed Ph.D. Vojin Dimitrijevic: in Serbia live also several hundred thousand foreign citizens, refugees that have been deprived of all civil rights in their "home" land. That is why we have to speak about human rights instead of civil rights, especially since Yugoslavia is one of the signers of the UN's Convention against torture, while its official or volunteer policeman considerably contributed to the versatility of devices and methods of physical and psychological torture over the last five years, as was noticed by the lawyer Ranko Vukotic.

His colleague Borovic, referring to the already mentioned case of one person who was a lawyer, a policeman and a court expert, noticed that the high time for banning the ex-policeman to register as lawyers is elapsing. Most of the participants have the undivided opinion that the "acceptable" symbiosis of the prosecutor's office as the executive power and the police as the criminal service must be won from their "spontaneous" symbiosis with the court, and through this with the legislative power. In the opposite, however, for how long are we going to be living in this party and political jail, indeed depends on that which the speaker of SPS Ivica Dacic calls, inspired by the words of his state and party chief pronounced referring to the previous elections, "stabile assembly".

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