Serb Opposition Shows Rifts

BELGRADE, Yugoslavia -- Though its fight is not yet over, cracks appeared Tuesday within the pro-democracy opposition whose protests against Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic seriously shook his autocratic rule.


The rifts within the three-party Zajedno, or Together, coalition were over who is going to hold which post in Belgrade's first government in 52 years not held by the Communists or their Socialist successors.


One of the opposition leaders, Zoran Djindjic, was hoping to become the capital's mayor Friday. Danica Draskovic, the ambitious wife of another opposition leader, Vuk Draskovic, had announced her candidacy for the head of greater Belgrade's government, a separate post.


The outspoken Ms. Draskovic has several times harshly criticized Djindjic, and is believed to personally dislike the leader of the Democratic Party.


Draskovic said in an interview published by the Dnevni Telegraf and Nasa Borba dailies that he would veto his wife's candidacy because it would appear undemocratic to have her at the post -- Milosevic unofficially shares power with his wife, Mirjana Markovic.


Still, he questioned whether Djindjic should automatically become Belgrade mayor -- a foregone conclusion just a few days ago.


Draskovic said his party members "have been offended by the claim that there is no better candidate than Djindjic, and they demand that [our party] puts up its own candidates.''


Dnevni Telegraf said Tuesday that Djindjic's Democratic Party was ready to publish official doctors' findings that Mrs. Draskovic was "totally unfit for the job.'' There was no elaboration on what the findings contained, but her opponents have suggested she is mentally unstable.


The unity of the opposition is crucial for the possible defeat of Milosevic in the next Serbian elections later this year. Until the coalition was formed late last year, the opposition, fractured by discord, was too weak to challenge the Serbian president.


The dispute surfaced just days after the suspension of three months of opposition protests following Milosevic's decision to recognize opposition municipal election victories in Belgrade and 13 other cities and towns. But Milosevic still faced a wave of strikes and workers' protests that could further erode his authority.


His ruling Socialist Party issued a statement Tuesday accusing the opposition of "trying to destabilize the country by seeking support from abroad in their effort to grab power at any cost.''


Serbia's economy has been decimated by years of mismanagement and international sanctions imposed to punish Milosevic for fomenting wars in Croatia and Bosnia. Workers' already low salaries often are delayed for months. Factories are at a standstill.


Teachers from 1,800 of Serbia's 2,100 elementary and high schools have been on strike for about three weeks to demand back pay and an increase in monthly salaries that now equal $150.


The teachers were infuriated by a deal Serbian Premier Mirko Marjanovic struck Sunday with the state-controlled union to raise their real wages by 10 percent -- far below their demand of 60 percent. A teacher's representative was not part of the agreement.