Serbia's major opposition groups said Friday they will boycott the republic's first multi-party elections since 1945 because of the ruling communists' refusal to allow them to participate in the vote-counting process.

Representatives of at least seven major opposition groups held a news conference to announce their decision to withdraw from the Dec. 9 contests for the assembly and presidency of Yugoslavia's largest republic, effectively denying legitimacy to the polls.The decision came a day after the communist-controlled assembly overwhelmingly rejected proposed election law amendments that would have given opposition parties seats on the local and republic panels that will administer the polls and count the ballots.

The opposition had demanded inclusion on the communist-dominated commissions because of fears that the regime of Marxist President Slobodan Milosevic, which has suffered a substantial loss of popularity in recent months, will rig the results to retain power.