Parties, citizens mark October 5

Today marks seven years since the day that saw the end of the 13 years of Slobodan Milošević's reign over Serbia.

Source: B92, Beta
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Mass riots and strikes throughout the country culminated on October 5 in Belgrade, where after calls from the Democratic Opposition of Serbia (DOS), a coalition of opposition parties, hundreds of thousands of people took to the streets to bring Milošević down.

Although the DOS had won the September 24 presidential vote, in a last ditch attempt to stall the inevitable, Milošević decided not to recognize the results of the ballot.

The leader of the Democratic Party of Serbia (DSS), who was the DOS candidate, Vojislav Koštunica, had won the elections, receiving almost 2.5 million votes. Slobodan Milošević received about 1.8 million.

The mass protest of October 5, however, forced Milošević to concede defeat, and marked the beginning of the end of his regime.

However, the day claimed two lives. Jasmina Jovanovič from Čačak died in Belgrade after falling under the wheels of a truck, while Momčilo Stakić from Krupanj died after suffering a heart attack. As many as 65 persons were injured in the riots.

A delegation of the Democratic Party of Serbia (DSS) laid flowers later today at the memorial plaque marking the location in Belgrade where Jasmina died.

Meanwhile, the Democratic Party (DS) youth visited Belgrade's New Cemetery and pay tribute to late Democrats’ leader and former Prime Minister Zoran Đinđić, who led the protest against Milošević in September and October 2000, and was the driving force for getting the bickering opposition together.

“Political elite is immature”

“Seven years following the ouster of Milošević, Serbia is on a good path to build a truly democratic society. However, more could have been achieved since the destructive regime was overthrown in 2000,” sociologist Milan Nikolić, from the Center for Policy Studies, told B92 on Friday.

According to him, Milošević “did not allow the political elite to grow up”, and as a consequence the elite today is not mature enough and lacks responsibility towards its citizens.

“Members of the economic elite have proved to be greedy egotists. There are only a few leftovers from their dinner that actually reach the citizens. On the other hand, the intellectual elite is mostly paid off to keep silent,” argued Nikolić.

“At least twenty years have to pass until economic circumstances in Serbia will come close to those prevalent in the 1989, the last normal year for Serbia before the wars,” he said, adding however that citizens are "too impatient" for such a long haul.

In his opinion, the Serbian political elite is learning from its mistakes as it slowly becomes aware it will have to work harder so as to attract more voters and earn the citizens’ trust.

“I am afraid that as we speak politicians are more concerned with the interests of the tycoons and party sponsors. Voters are not immune to that,” Nikolić stressed.

“Our political elite will have to learn to face the consequences of its actions,” he concluded.

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