Bosnian Serbs call for referendum

10:57, April 15, 2011      

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In what is being interpreted as a direct challenge to the international community's stewardship of Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH), the National Assembly of Republika Srpska, the Bosnian Serb-dominated entity, has called for a referendum to question the legality of decisions imposed by the Office of the High Representative, reported Radio Television Republika Srpska (RTRS) on Thursday.

The National Assembly in the entity capital of Banja Luka, in north-west BiH, on Wednesday adopted the motion to put a referendum before its citizens. The referendum was proposed by President Milorad Dodik, who has for years been sparring with various High Representatives over the legality of their arbitrary decisions.

According to Dayton Peace Agreement, which brought an end to the bloody civil war in the 1990s, the High Representative, acting on behalf of the international community, has the authority to impose binding decisions and remove public officials from office.

Dodik denied that there was hidden secessionist agenda behind the referendum.

"With respect to the referendum, there are no secessionist intentions or voting about the status (of Republika Srpska), rather it is a response to issues that have been imposed unconstitutionally, not according to the Dayton Agreement, and directed exclusively against Serb interests," said Dodik. "From this perspective, we want the people of Republika Srpksa to take a stand on this issue."

"We are only defending our position in Dayton, our constitutional capacity and no more than that," elaborated Dodik.

The current High Representative, Valentin Inzko, who is also the EU's Special Representative to BiH, responded to the referendum debate in the National Assembly with an official statement, in which he said "a process against an essential part of the Dayton Peace Agreement is irresponsible." Inzko also referred to the referendum as an attempt at "subverting" the legal framework of the state.

Inzko, speaking before reporters in the Bosnian town of Zepce on Thursday, said he was certain the international community would oppose the referendum that also represents an attack on institutions, specifically with respect to decisions relevant to the judiciary and the state prosecutor's office.

"A municipality or'some entity' cannot change or destroy state institutions," said Inzko. "This is not an option."

Bakir Izetbegovic, the Bosnian Muslim member of the BiH Presidency, said the referendum should not be permitted to influence the work of the state judiciary and prosecutor, and would only destabilize the domestic political situation.

Source: Xinhua
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