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11 years since October 5 changes

05. October 2011. | 11:11

Source: Tanjug

Wednesday, October 5, marks 11 years since the Democratic Opposition of Serbia (DOS) staged a mass protest, forcing Slobodan Milosevic, the president of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (FRY), to step down.

Wednesday, October 5, marks 11 years since the Democratic Opposition of Serbia (DOS) staged a mass protest, forcing Slobodan Milosevic, the president of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (FRY), to step down.

The October 5 protest in front of the Federal Parliament in downtown Belgrade was organized after the Federal Electoral Committee refused to acknowledge the victory of DOS candidate Vojislav Kostunica at the elections for the president of FRY held on September 24, 2000.

Even though many unofficial sources determined that Kostunica had scored a decisive first-round victory against opposing candidate Slobodan Milosevic, the Federal Electoral Committee announced that the DOS candidate had only won 49 percent of the votes and scheduled a second round of voting.

At the same time, the coalition made up of 18 opposition parties claimed that Kostunica had won 52.54 percent of the votes and dismissed any possibility of a second round.

In response, DOS scheduled a protest under the slogan 'Serbia in Belgrade', and gave Milosevic until 3 pm on October 5 to admit defeat.

They also called for the resignations of Radio and Television of Serbia (RTS) executives.

Estimates on the number of protesters in the center of Belgrade vary, but what is certain is that this was the single biggest rally ever mounted against Milosevic's decade-long rule.

In addition to the residents of Belgrade, the protest attracted tens of thousands of people from all over Serbia, who came pouring into the capital in organized groups or in their own cars.

When the ultimatum deadline was up, the protesters charged the Federal Parliament, which was guarded by insufficient police forces, and proceeded to take hold of the police station in Majke Jevrosime Street and burn part of the ground and first floors of the RTS building.

Later in the day, the State Security Service's Special Operations Unit arrived on the scene with a convoy of armored vehicles. The special ops team went around in full combat gear shaking hands with the protesters.

Milosevic did not concede defeat on October 5, but he succumbed on the following day.

Milosevic congratulated Kostunica on his victory and said that after leaving public office, he will spend more time with family, especially his grandson Marko.

However, he was arrested on April 1, 2001 and extradited to the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY), where he died in detention in March 2006, before his trial was completed.

Kostunica took the oath of office before the Federal Parliament on October 7, 2000, to become the first democratic president of the FRY.

According to the official data, Kostunica won 2,470,304 votes or 50.24 percent, while Milosevic had 1,826,799 votes or 37.15 percent.

Two people died in the demonstration - Democratic Party of Serbia activist Jasmina Jovanovic fell under a vehicle and protester Momcilo Stakic suffered a fatal heart attack. A total of 65 people were injured in clashes with the police.

In contemporary political jargon, the phrase "5 October changes" has come to signify the dividing line between the two eras in post-communist Serbia: the non-democratic and the democratic.

Although Serbia formally became a democracy alongside the other republics that made up the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, its first democratic election in line with European standards was held on December 23, 2000, and was made possible by the events of October 5.

Following two months of an interim government comprising DOS, the Serbian Renewal Movement and the Socialist Party of Serbia, with this election the will of the people was finally reflected in the make-up of the parliament and the government - headed by the first democratic prime minister of Serbia since 1945, Zoran Djindjic.


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