INTRODUCTION: Yugoslavia's President Josip Tito attended a mass rally in Belgrade on Wednesday (25 May) to mark a double anniversary-his 85th birthday and his fortieth year as head of the country's Communist Party.
INTRODUCTION: Yugoslavia's President Josip Tito attended a mass rally in Belgrade on Wednesday (25 May) to mark a double anniversary-his 85th birthday and his fortieth year as head of the country's Communist Party. The celebrations in the Yugoslav capital were unique in another way, too-President Tito is the only surviving world war two leader; and he's still in power.
SYNOPSIS: The rally was the climax of nation-wide celebrations in January. President Tito looked physically fit and fully recovered from the liver ailment he suffered last year. He was greeted by an enthusiastic capacity crowd of 60,000 at the Partizan stadium.
The themes of the celebrations were Tito's role as a young revolutionary, partisan commander, leader of the international non-aligned movement, and the guarantor of his country's independence. Thousands of people took part in the dramatic displays on Wednesday.
The President shows no sign of relinquishing his control of his country or the Yugoslav Communist Party. In recent months, he has held talks with a dozen foreign heads of state and political leaders, without showing traces of fatigue. He has become a legend in his own time, and no successor to him has emerged.
The Yugoslav leader was recently awarded the title "Hero of Yugoslavia" for the third time, and Parliament and the Communist Party have both given him the right to hold their leadership for as long as he wishes.
On Wednesday, a 14-year-old school-girl from his native village of Kumrovec, in Croatia, presented President Tito with a baton which runners had carried in relays for thousands of miles (kilometres) around the country in the previous eight weeks.
A spectacular display of fireworks provided the finals to the celebrations.