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At plenum: few changes, lots of `blah, blah, blah'

After two days of acrimonious discussions at an extraordinary plenum, the Yugoslav Communist Party's internal battle climaxed yesterday - by putting off tough personnel decisions. One-third of the Central Committee members are still scheduled to be replaced, said party leader Stipe Suvar. But unexpectedly, the far-reaching dismissals did not come immediately. They will be postponed until another party meeting, scheduled to take place in 45 days.

Four of the ruling Politburo's 23 members had resigned before the plenum. One more received a vote of no confidence. But other changes were also postponed, and the purge anticipated for this meeting appears unlikely.

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``All we heard was more blah, blah, blah,'' Belgrade television anchorman Goran Milic complained afterward. ``It was a great fudge.''

``People expected an earthquake,'' one speaker said. ``They only got a tremor.''

At issue was nothing less than the future makeup of this country. The Serbs, led by their charismatic leader Slobodan Milosevic, wanted wholesale leadership changes, particularly in the autonomous province of Kosovo, populated primarily by Albanians.

Serbians have been holding mass rallies over the past few months to press their demands. Hundreds of thousands have joined in complaining about Albanian harassment in Kosovo, and the protests have sometimes turned into violent confrontations with the police.

At the plenum, Kosovo's Albanian leaders, along with the northern Slovenes and Croats, resisted Serbian demands. They fear Serbian domination. Milan Kucan, leader of the Slovene party, warned against what he called the ``mindlessness'' of Serbian demonstrations.

``We cannot accept changes under pressure,'' said Marjan Rozic, a Slovene and former president of the National Assembly. ``The street is not the place to make these demands.''

Albanian leader Azem Vlasi, a target of Serbian attacks, refused to step down, denouncing what he called a Serbian power play. When Mr. Vlasi spoke, Serbian leader Milosevic buried his head in papers. Earlier, he had made a dramatic 15-minute address, defending his demonstrations against Albanians and repeating his call for firing ``all those who are blocking change.''

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``We had high expectations that the plenum would put us on a new path,'' Zivorad Rajsic, a Milosevic lieutenent, told the Monitor yesterday. ``Unfortunately, this did not take place.''

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