The Communist Party bosses of a Serbian province said today they will resign, a move that could prompt leadership changes in the national party and in the six republics.
The pledge to quit was the most dramatic development in three months of mass street protests in Yugoslavia over ethnic strife and economic crisis.
About 50,000 people filled the streets of Novi Sad today shouting “We want resignations!” while the leaders met at party headquarters. The city is the capital of Vojvodina province.
Stipe Suvar, the national party chief, said Tuesday night that there will be changes in the ruling Politburo and policy-setting Central Committee at or before a Central Committee meeting scheduled for Monday.
Dozens of groups of 1,000 to 2,000 demonstrators rallied in Novi Sad in a drizzling rain, facing cordons of police, to press demands for new leadership.
Tanjug, the official news agency, estimated the total at 100,000.
Protesters waved Yugoslav flags and shouted slogans against low wages and declining living standards as they milled around the Communist Party headquarters and other official buildings.
Witnesses said police rebuffed an attempt by about 30,000 people overnight to force their way into the provincial Central Committee building. There were no reports of injuries in that confrontation, but state television said one official was hit by a thrown bottle Wednesday.
Vojvodina party leaders held an emergency meeting today after provincial party chief Milovan Sogorov told the Serbian Communist Party in Belgrade that the leaders would step down, Tanjug reported.