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Breaking News

Yugoslav Elections: Protesters Storm the Parliament Building in Belgrade

Aired October 5, 2000 - 11:43 a.m. ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

BILL HEMMER, CNN ANCHOR: The fallout from Belgrade continues. Protesters in the streets there. They have stormed the parliament building. A lot of protesters, though, have ebbed away from that building and now waiting to gather in central Belgrade for a speech by opposition leaders.

Again, the videotape, we have shown it now for the past several hours here. This is the steps to the parliament building that appears to be the final stand of police and army troops there, that had gathered to keep protesters away. But it was just a short time after this, where the line gave way and the protesters were launched inside.

ANDRIA HALL, CNN ANCHOR: And according to our correspondent on the scene, our Belgrade bureau chief, Alessio Vinci, he says, amazingly, the police are very conservative in their approach in dealing with the crowd. They have been very reserved in how they have dealt with them. Of course we have reports that tear gas has been fired, that those protesters did storm the parliament building. Those -- those individual kind of dispersing, waiting for, for a message. For word from the opposition leaders there in Belgrade.

HEMMER: At issue here is an election that was held late last month, late in the month of September, where it appeared the opposition candidate had beaten Slobodan Milosevic. Since that time, though, the election has been ruled a redo, a retake, something that needs to be done over as a result of the polling results. A number of people calling to question how those votes were tallied.

But as it stands right now, Slobodan Milosevic still in power, still president of Yugoslavia. This, again, protest video, a new videotape that just came in a short time ago. You can see the protesters there have gathered in central Belgrade. Still waiting for word from their own opposition leaders.

It remains an open question: What happens after this day today, and certainly we have not heard from Slobodan Milosevic. His whereabouts unknown at this time. He does have a home on the outskirt of Belgrade. But again, no word from the Yugoslav president as a result of the protests we are seeing there.

HALL: And the violence there that you are seeing, we have no reports that the opposition tried to orchestrate that at all, just simply that the people are speaking, 2.5 million people voted in favor of opposition leader Vojislav Kostunica back on the 24th of September. And, as of yesterday, the constitutional court in the Yugoslavia ruling that that election is nullified. The people trying to speak. Trying to make demands for the removal of President Slobodan Milosevic.

HEMMER: What we don't know is what is the ultimate outcome of who leads this country. A rather divided country at this point, as has been the case for the past 10 years in the Balkans. And certainly Yugoslavia has been the center of that turmoil. As a nation they have lost respect internationally, they have lost a significant amount of territory of the their former country, and they have certainly lost pride in a number of perspectives as it relates to their current government.

Slobodan Milosevic is in power. But again, what election will take place? Who will rule this country? Still waiting for the opposition leaders to come forth and talk there in Belgrade.

The pictures, though, are riveting certainly, tantalizing in a way to see the number of people who have come out today and the violence that has ensued.

Word we have, there were five injuries reported, which seems to be a rather small number. But again those were early numbers reported on casualties there. A small numbers, as I say, as a result of the videotape we are seeing and the number of people in the streets throughout the day.

HALL: The constitutional court saying that there needs to be a runoff election on the 8th of October. But opposition leaders saying they will not participate in such a runoff election. They don't want to have any parts of it. They say the people have spoken, at least 10 percent greater votes for opposition leader Vojislav Kostunica than Slobodan Milosevic.

Of course, the government there in Yugoslavia saying that that election is null and void, and that it's -- it's necessary that the people speak again in a new election on October 8th.

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