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British press on Yugoslav elections

14:26 LONDON, Tuesday - The British press has dedicated major attention to Yugoslav elections, BBC reported. Every paper carries a story on the front page, and a report, analysis and comment inside.

Serbs have shown courage and good sense in their historic decision to vote Slobodan Milosevic out of office in the Yugoslav presidential election, stated Financial Times in its Tuesday comment. "Without widespread vote-rigging and intimidation, Vojislav Kostunica's victory would have been a landslide. Quite unexpectedly, Serbs now have a real chance to rid themselves of the man who has brought them three disastrous wars and a decade of hardship," this London paper concludes.

The Guardian wrote that "for the first time in over a decade Milosevic has lost the initiative. Instead of being three moves ahead of every other player, whether they be envoys of foreign powers or his domestic critics, he is on the back foot, desperately playing for time and looking for manoeuvres to escape". The paper concludes that "whatever happens in the next week or two, Serbia is on the road back to sanity at last."

For Independent, "You won the election, but I won the count", the famous line by the former Nicaraguan dictator Anastasio Somoza in the late 1970s to his critics "seems certain to be the response of Slobodan Milosevic as he attempts to preserve a rule that has brought a decade of blood and misery to his country and the Balkan region." The daily writes that "Yugoslavia's long nightmare is unlikely to be ended by a tyrant's sudden conversion to the virtues of the untampered ballot box."

Daily Telegraph emphasises that, "Now, with a credible leader, Vojislav Kostunica, at their head, voters have shown the Yugoslav president what they think of him. But the daily added, "as always, the key determinant is the resolve of the Serbs to rid themselves of a leader who has betrayed them."

The Times warns that "until Slobodan Milosevic relinquishes power, there is a clear and present danger that he could cheat fate again by the most well-worn of his methods, using his secret police and paramilitary formations to precipitate another civil war."

Source: B92

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