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 30. June 1999
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The Alliance for Change on Rally in Cacak Demanded

Early Elections

CACAK - About 10,000 cheering people joined in the first rally in Yugoslavia since the end of NATO bombing on Tuesday to demand democratic change and call for President Slobodan Milosevic to stand down.

Vladan Batic, leader of the Christian Democrats and a coordinator of the Alliance for Change -- the umbrella opposition group that organised the technically illegal rally --listed demands he said would be repeated across Serbia this summer. They included the resignation of Milosevic and early elections.

Thousands of supporters showed up despite efforts by police and authorities to stop them from arriving in Cacak. Police stopped two buses and 10 cars from Belgrade carrying supporters, party officials and foreign and local journalists en route to Cacak. Reporters said they were turned back.

Organisers said police had also stopped other buses carrying supporters from various central Serbian towns. Some of them headed to Cacak on foot, others were picked up by local Yugoslav Army soldiers and brought to Cacak, they added.

During his speech, Vuk Obradovic, leader of the Socialdemocracy party, thanked the army for its assistance.

The crowd applauded wildly when Cacak mayor Velimir "Velja" Ilic, a member of an opposition party, appeared on stage. Ilic went into hiding a month ago after criminal charges were brought against him for organising a rally during the state of war.

"Today I am the happiest person in the world because I am with you again," Ilic told the crowd in his first public appearance since May. "But I could cry because of what this government has done to this country."

The Alliance for Change plans rallies over the summer in 20 other cities and towns, and has begun circulating a petition calling for Milosevic to step down.

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