Yugoslavia's President Tito, the country's ruler for more than 30 years, celebrated his 87th birthday on Friday (25 May).
Yugoslavia's President Tito, the country's ruler for more than 30 years, celebrated his 87th birthday on Friday (25 May). There are no signs that he is yet ready to relinquish power. To celebrate the event, streets and cities throughout Yugoslavia were decked with national and Communist party flags.
SYNOPSIS: The climax of the celebrations in the capital, Belgrade was a mass rally in the Army Stadium, involving about 60,000 people...and attended by President Tito.
President Tito had returned earlier in the week from a five-day visit to Moscow...and starts a trip to Algeria, Libya and Malta on Monday (28 May). According to observers he seems in excellent physical and mental shape, seemingly indefatigable after more than three decades ruling Yugoslavia, and 40 years as head of the country's Communist Party. Slogans for the celebrations reflected the determination, often repeated by President Tito, that Yugoslavia will maintain its independence from both East and West.
One of the traditions of the birthday celebrations...the final leg of a long relay across Yugoslavia, to present President Tito with what is known as a "Youth Baton". The relay had lasted over two months, with the baton changing hands thousands of time, before it's journey end; President Tito receiving the symbolic baton from the hands of a young woman. President Tito, still showing no sign of wanting to relinquish power as President for life, has steadfastly declined to designate as heir-apparent. But, to smooth the path for a transfer to power he has established an elaborate system of collective leadership in top party and state bodies, in the event of his death or retirement. Until then, he is still firmly in charge.