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news 15 Feb 13

Bosniaks Block Vote on Federation Entity Govt

Bosniaks MPs in Bosnia's Federation entity blocked confirmation of a no-confidence vote in the government, invoking the legal mechanism of claiming vital ethnic interests were at stake.

Elvira M. Jukic

The Bosniak [Muslim] caucus of MPs in the House of Peoples in the Bosniak-Croat Federation entity blocked a vote of no confidence in the entity government on February 15, saying their community's vital ethnic interests were endangered.

The vote followed an earlier no-confidence vote in the government in the other chamber of the Federation entity parliament.

Twelve of the 17 Bosniak MPs voted against the proposal, invoking the constitutional blocking mechanism of claiming that "vital ethnic interests" are at stake. The chamber comprises 17 Serbs, 17 Croats, and five others.

The speaker of the House of Peoples, Radoje Vidovic, said that since most Bosniak MPs did not support the vote - although a majority of MPs did - the issue would have to go before the Constitutional Court.

This will be tasked with determining whether the matter of the no-confidence vote was indeed related to vital ethnic interests.

“If the court says it has nothing to do with vital ethnic interests, this decision will be considered as being adopted by a simple majority,” Vidovic said.

Amir Zukic, head of the Bosniak causus, insisted on Friday that because Bosniak MPs opposed the move to bring down the government, it had to go before the Court.

The House of Representatives, the other chamber of the entity parliament, adopted the no-confidence in the government on February 12.

This followed the formation of a new parliamentary majority, comprising the Social Democratic Party, SDP, the Alliance for a Better Future, SBB, the Croatian Democratic Union, HDZ BiH, and its sister party, HDZ 1990.

The coalition has been seeking to dismiss half of ministers of the entity government since May, saying they no longer reflected the will of the new parliamentary majority.

The SDP's former coalition with the Party of Democratic Action, SDA, broke up on May 31, when the SDA refused to support the proposed state budget. The SDP then found itself a new partner in the SBB and in the two main Croatian parties.

Sanjin Halimovic, the SDA Development Minister, told the entity parliament on Friday that he wanted to hear more real reasons to bring down the government, which, according to him, worked well.

“The problems only started when the new parliamentary majority put before the Prime Minister what he could not implement,” Halimovic said. “We did not obstruct anything.”

Much the same situation happened last October in Bosnia's state-level parliament, when the SDA ministers were expelled from the government.

That decision followed months of waiting for the Constitutional Court to decided whether the move had endangered Bosniak vital ethnic interests.

The reconstruction of the Federation government has taken even longer, owing to legal wrangles and the opposition of the Federation President, Zivko Budimir.

The new parliamentary majority in the Federation has tried several times to dismiss the ministers from the SDA and two other parties.

Prime Minister Nermin Niksic first asked them to go, and he then asked Budimir to dismiss them. After these moves failed, the no-confidence vote followed as a last attempt.

Final confirmation of the no-confidence vote by the court will come only after three more judges are added to the Court. There are now only six of them and nine are needed.

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