Students heartened by one triumph over police demanded Friday that the government withdraw riot squads that had blocked street protests against Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic.
After a daylong standoff with police, 30,000 students were allowed to march through Belgrade early Friday. The students dispersed but said they would be back Saturday - and demanded that the government pull riot police off the streets.The students delivered a letter demanding the removal of the riot police to the office of Premier Mirko Marjanovic at the end of today's march. They had asked for a meeting but were told to leave the letter instead.
Earlier this week, a delegation of students met with Serbia's interior minister to make similar demands but had no success.
"We wanted to see if Premier Marjanovic was ready to do what one of his ministers refused," Cedomir Jovanovic, a student leader, said Friday.
Other opponents of Milosevic planned to protest later Friday, driving their cars into downtown to block traffic.
Students and opposition followers have demonstrated for 53 straight days to protest Milosevic's annulment of Nov. 17 local elections won by the opposition.
A six-member U.S. congressional delegation arrived in Belgrade Friday to urge the government to recognize the election results and increase democracy in Serbia. They will meet both the government and opposition representatives.
"We are very pleased to be here and review the circumstances and the progress of the elections and the acceptance of the elections," Bruce F. Vento, D-Minn., said at Belgrade airport.
The U.S. Embassy in Belgrade said that the representatives were on an unofficial, privately financed visit. They also will visit Montenegro, Serbia's junior partner in the Yugoslav federation.
The Serbian government conceded Wednesday that Milosevic's Socialists lost municipal elections in the country's second-largest city, Nis. There, 12,000 people demonstrated in two protests.
Milosevic clearly hoped to placate his opponents by giving up Nis, along with three smaller towns earlier. Instead, protesters demanded that the regime concede all 14 cities won by the opposition.
Belgraders waved from balconies and windows in support of the student marchers early Friday. Others joined in their cars, honking horns in celebration.