- The Washington Times - Friday, November 24, 2000

For a man who has been burned in effigy, former Yugoslavian leader Slobodan Milosevic isn't doing too badly. He is still living the comfortable life in a posh villa with green marble walls. He is still guarded by a loyal paramilitary force of 100 well-armed troops. Two of his cronies are still in top posts in President Vojislav Konstunica's government, and he still controls his Socialist Party, at least until tomorrow's party congress.
Though he has assumed a lower profile since tens of thousands took to the streets demanding he leave office, he was trying to paint himself as a political celebrity again this week. He never lost the presidential election, but was forced from office in an "illegal and violent street coup," he is telling visitors. In multiple television appearances, he shrugged off challenges to his leadership, Reuters reported. This, despite the fact that a number of former prominent allies resigned from his party recently. But the former dictator, who created the party from the old League of Communists, has made no pretense at democracy. A top Socialist official said Mr. Milosevic would be the party's only candidate for leader, and that he would be reelected Saturday.
Mr. Konstunica has chosen a course of silence over Mr. Milosevic's continued stronghold on the government. The new president, embraced by the West as Yugoslavia's new leader of democracy, is refusing to hand Mr. Milosevic over to the war crimes tribunal at the Hague, where he has been indicted. He has also kept two of the former leader's closest allies: secret police chief Rade Markovic and army commander Gen. Nebojsa Pavkovic.
Much of the government voted in with Mr. Konstunica wants to make a clean break with the old regime, but the new leader's protection of what remains of Mr. Milosevic's stronghold could contribute to an early end for his own coalition after Serbian elections Dec. 23. The former dictator will count on such divisions to aid his own comeback.
Ousting Mr. Milosevic from office does not spell the final act in bringing democracy to Yugoslavia. Rather, it should be considered the beginning of a process that must be systematically nurtured. This can be aided by the West by providing the tactical, communications support and economic training needed to keep opposition to Mr. Milosevic strong. Yugoslavs can help by supporting unity in Mr. Konstunica's coalition and telling the Socialist Party that Mr. Milosevic's place is not in his country's leadership, but before the war crimes tribunal in the Hague. Until he is removed completely from Yugoslavia's political system, Mr. Milosevic will have the power to continue pulling the strings to Yugoslavia's future from behind his marble green walls.

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