The funeral of former Yugoslavia's first lady Jovanka Broz is drawing crowds of those who remember the ex-communist federation as a haven of peace, prosperity and equality.

Carrying roses, wreaths and symbols of the past era which broke up in bloodshed more than 20 years ago, hundreds gathered since early hours Saturday at a memorial complex where Jovanka Broz will be buried close to her late husband, former Yugoslavia's communist leader Josip Broz Tito.

One woman in the crowd, Radojka Zivotic, says that "we came to pay our respects and remember happy times."

Jovanka Broz became Tito's wife in 1952. After he died in 1980, Tito's successors accused the widow of planning a coup and placed her under house arrest. She died last Sunday at the age of 88.