Communist Party leader Stipe Suvar called for a shake-up in the ruling Politburo and the policy-setting Central Committee after weeks of ethnic and economic protests, state-run media said Wednesday.
About 5,000 workers marched on Parliament on Wednesday for the second straight day. Workers have stepped up strikes and demonstrations over the Communist government’s failure to reduce 217% inflation and unemployment, which is at 15%.
Radio Belgrade said 140,000 Serbs attended two rallies in central Serbia to push demands for greater Serbian control over the autonomous provinces of Kosovo and Vojvodina, where ethnic Albanians outnumber Serbs.
Thousands more flag-waving Serbs attended a similar rally in Novi Sad, 42 miles north of the capital, according to Radio Belgrade and the state-run Tanjug news agency. Crowd estimates ranged from 30,000 to 80,000.
Suvar said Tuesday night that the 162-member Central Committee will probably vote on personnel changes in the Politburo on Oct. 17 in a session expected to be a major showdown between party leadership factions. Newspapers reported his comments Wednesday.
He said the Politburo will meet before Oct. 17 “to determine the criteria of possible responsibility of its members” for the country’s worst economic and political crisis since World War II.
“If it fails in this, the Central Committee will assume this role, and anyone who does not win two-thirds of the committee’s votes will have to leave the Presidium (Politburo),” he said.
As the top body of Yugoslavia’s only political party, the Politburo is the most powerful institution in the country. It has 23 members, but two resigned last week under mounting criticism.
Suvar also said about one-third of the Central Committee membership will be changed this fall.