Montenegro Braces for Serb Strike

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Podgirica, Montenegro, April 2, 1999

The mood here in the capital of the junior partner in the Yugoslav federation has slipped from apprehension to outright fear. "Only God can help us now," says Nebojsa Rezic, the editor of Radio Free Montenegro. "The next 48 hours will determine whether we exist as a nation. The only question now is when the people of Montenegro will start pointing guns at each other." Rezic, who was about to drive his family out of the country, and political leaders agree that all signs point to an imminent move by Milosevic's army against the government of this tiny, feisty republic, which opposes him.

Yugoslav army tanks have been deployed to the high ground around the city, just like Sarajevo, and locals fear Milosevic will use the war with NATO to regain control of Montenegro. He has put his own loyalists in charge of the Montenegrin military district and wants control of the television station. Now sources fear the army is shaping to strike against the Montenegrin government. Local police are reinforcing positions on government buildings and the television station. "It is now or never for Milosevic," says Rezic. "He has to move before the army is weakened. What will happen here will overshadow Bosnia."