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Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic Refuses to Concede Defeat

Aired September 25, 2000 - 1:29 p.m. ET

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

NATALIE ALLEN, CNN ANCHOR: The hour's top story is the prospect an international pariah may be voted out of office. Slobodan Milosevic, president of Yugoslavia, nemesis of NATO and indicted war crimes suspect, is refusing to concede he lost yesterday's election. Official results are still not in, but the main opposition candidate has claimed victory, and many Western governments agree. They also claim Milosevic tried to rig the voting and the counting.

Our coverage continues with CNN's Christiane Amanpour.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Even before the final results were in, reaction from European capitals was swift and harsh.

ROBIN COOK, BRITISH FOREIGN SECRETARY: Today Milosevic is a beaten, broken-backed president. We knew he was preparing to rig the results, but the scale of his defeat is too great for even him to fix it.

AMANPOUR: The British foreign secretary, Robin Cook, says that all available evidence shows that Serbian voters have rejected President Slobodan Milosevic by a massive margin, even in his own home town.

The Council of Europe says the vote was flawed even before the polls opened. Indeed, Milosevic altered the constitution just to run again, and banned independent election monitors from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe. On Monday, the OSCE said claims of victory by Milosevic's people are not credible.

Indeed, there is a sense that Serbia has taken a dramatic new turn, something that Milosevic's traditional ally Russia acknowledges, according to Gerhard Schroeder, the German chancellor who was in Moscow for a meeting with the Russian president, Vladimir Putin.

We agreed that it looks as though Serbia and Yugoslavia have decided in favor of democracy, says Schroeder.

European leaders believe that Milosevic's main opponent, Vojislav Kostunica, should be able to claim a clear victory, but they also believe that Milosevic will be true to form and try to cling to power. Throughout the campaign, opposition candidates have been harassed, arrested and denied proper access to the media.

Robin Cook paid tribute to the heavy voter turnout.

COOK: Milosevic did everything he could to intimidate, to bully, and to silence the opposition. This morning I want to congratulate the people of Serbia on refusing to be bullied out of using their democratic vote.

AMANPOUR: Cook called on the Yugoslav president to get out of the way and release his people from the prison that he's made of Serbia.

(on camera): Cook says Europe looks forward to working with a president who would end Serbia's pariah status and lead it into the community of nations. Even before the elections, the Europeans promised to end sanctions on Serbia, if voters would toss Milosevic out of office.

Christiane Amanpour, CNN, London.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

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