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OPPOSITION PARTIES WIN IN 30 TOWNS

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Serbia's opposition parties, claiming victory in municipal elections, called on President Slobodan Milosevic Monday to concede defeat and warned him against trying to tamper with the vote.

The four-party Zajedno (Together) coalition won control over 30 towns, including the capital, Belgrade, and several former Communist bastions, according to unofficial results from Sunday's vote.The ruling Socialists seemed surprised and unprepared, refusing to comment on election results until later Monday. They claimed to have won in some smaller municipalities, but their usual triumphant statements were missing, suggesting a defeat.

In a statement, the opposition warned the leftists against trying to annul vote results.

"We will defend our election victory at any price, and we warn Slobodan Milosevic and his wife not to play with the people's will," the statement said.

About 10,000 opposition supporters crowded downtown Belgrade, where they threw fire-crackers and leaned on car horns through the early morning to celebrate their apparent victory.

"I call upon the European Union and the United States to bring Milosevic to his senses and make him admit that democracy has won," Zajedno leader Vuk Draskovic told the cheering crowd.

"We will all die for this victory if they try to steal it from us. This is our revolution," added Vesna Pesic, another Zajedno leader.

Municipal councils have little real power, but a symbolic loss for the president could hurt his image and put a dent in the power of the leftist bloc of Milosevic's Socialists and the neo-Communist Party headed by his wife, Mirjana Markovic.

Official results were expected later Monday. If the opposition maintains its lead in Belgrade, it would give the capital its first non-Communist mayor since 1945.

In addition to Belgrade, the opposition claimed victory in the industrial cities of Kragujevac and Nis. All three cities were once Milosevic strongholds.