SERBIA deprived Yugoslavia's collective presidency of a quorum Monday, which left the body powerless to make decisions. The Serbian parliament voted to recall the Kosovo province representative to the presidency, meaning four of its eight members have quit or been dismissed in five days.
The remaining presidency members and Yugoslav Prime Minister Ante Markovic said they would ignore the decision and try to keep the country functioning.
But Western diplomats said a dangerous power vacuum had been created. "The country is ungoverned," a diplomat said.
Divisions in the multiethnic Balkan country of 23.5 million people have raised the prospect of conflict and civil war. Serbia and Croatia both mobilized additional police over the weekend.
Although the federal presidency is the supreme commander of the Serbian-dominated armed forces, it is not clear to whom the Yugoslav Army is answerable.
Officials of Serbia's ruling Socialist Party, formerly the communists, said Monday that an Army coup was out of the question.
But Vasil Tupurkovski, Macedonia's representative to the presidency, told reporters the body was worried by an absence of communication with the Army since Friday, when commanders met to discuss action after the presidency rejected Army plans to restore order through emergency measures.
Slovene Defense Minister Janez Jansa told reporters the Army was torn between direct involvement in politics and an outright coup. "Neither of these options is acceptable," he said.
And Lojze Peterle, Slovenia's prime minister, said, "In the event of an unfavorable course of events in Yugoslavia, a reserve plan for Slovenia's immediate independence has been prepared."
The country's crisis deepened after all its republics except Serbia and Montenegro dumped communist rule in elections last year and began seeking greater independence.