As the opposition, led by Vojislav Kostunica, took control of the Yugoslav capital, Belgrade, a senior European church official has called for solidarity with Yugoslavia's churches.

Keith Clements, general secretary of the Conference of European Churches, based in Geneva, also called on the international community to prepare to bring to an end the nation's political and economic isolation.

Clements said today: "Now is the time for Christians and churches throughout Europe to pray anew for the people of Yugoslavia, and to manifest their solidarity with the churches of that country during these critical days."

Yugoslavia's President Slobodan Milosevic disappeared from public view October 5 as tens of thousands of people gathered in the capital and crowds seized control of the parliament building, the state broadcasting headquarters, and police stations. Protesters were angry over the government's failure to recognize Kostunica's claim that he was the winner in elections held on September 24.

According to information issued by a Geneva-based church aid network, which co-ordinates aid programs in Yugoslavia, Belgrade is calm this morning. Action by Churches Together (ACT) said that the media, which are no longer controlled by Milosevic, had acknowledged Kostunica as the new Yugoslav leader. Police had stated that they would not interfere with the popular will of the people, and the military had remained in barracks.

In his statement issued today, Clements praised the role in recent days of the Serbian Orthodox Church, which has supported Kostunica's claims to the presidency. The Serbian church is a member of CEC and has major influence within Serb society. In the early 1990s, the church was criticized by several West European churches ...

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