news 23 Oct 12

Bosnia SDP Forces Out SDA Ministers at Last

Social Democrats finally get their way and expel ministers from the Bosniak Party of Democratic Action, SDA, from the state government.

Elvira M. Jukic
BIRN
Sarajevo

Two SDA ministers and a deputy minister were removed from Bosnia's Council of Ministers on October 22 after the largest Croatian party declined to vote against the proposal.
 
Sulejman Tihic, leader of the SDA, voiced his disapointment with the vote.

He said that the Serbian Alliance of Independent Social Democrats, SNSD, and the Croatian Democratic Union of Bosnia, HDZ BiH, both promised to support his party.  “Milorad Dodik's SNSD kept its promise, but unfortunately the HDZ did not,” Tihic said.
 
The Social Democratic Party, SDP, the other Bosniak party in the state government, has sought the dismissal of the SDA ministers ever since their coalition broke up in May.  
 
The government was formed on February 10, more than 16 months after the general elections in October 2010.

The coalition was made up of two Bosniak parties, the SDA and SDP, two Serbian parties, the SNSD and the Serbian Democratic Party, SDS, and two Croatian Parties, the HDZ BiH and its sister party, HDZ 1990. However, the SDA and SDP fell out over the budget.
 
The first attempt to dismiss the two SDA ministers was blocked when the SDA invoked Bosniak “vital national interests” – a constitutional instrument – arguing that if SDA ministers were axed, Bosniaks would be under-represented in government.

Bosnia's Constitutional Court in August dismissed that argument, giving the ruling parties the green light to proceed with the dismissal.
 
The campaign for the local elections, which took place on October 7, further delayed the process, however. 
 
Dragan Covic, the leader of HDZ, said the SDA had failed to meet the HDZ's demands, which centre on the HDZ's wish to join the government of the larger of the two entities, the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

The HDZ's demand to join the Federation entity government looks unlikely to succeed, as the SDA and its coalition partner dominate the presidency, which can block changes to the the entity government.
 
The HDZ also wants to change the way Bosnia's State Presidency members are elected. They claim the current Croatian member, Zeljko Komsic, was elected mainly by Bosniak, not Croat, votes.
 
“Croats have to be equal in this country,” Covic said. “The first step is to allow them to elect their member of the presidency. But all this is not over yet, we will see what happens tomorrow.”
 
Another parliamentary session is scheduled for Tuesday, when two top SDP officials could also lose their jobs.  
 
The big Serbian parties have been trying since August to dismiss the SDP leader, Bosnia's Foreign Minister, Zlatko Lagumdzija.

Ostensibly, this is because he instructed Bosnia’s representative to vote in support of a UN resolution on Syria without making due consultation.
 
The Serbian parties have also demanded the removal of the SDP deputy speaker of parliament, Denis Becirovic.

His offence was sending an unauthorised protest to Serbia, for having called the Bosnian Serb entity, the Republika Srpska, a state.
 
“Tomorrow is just too far away at this point,” said Stasa Kosarac of the SNSD. “We will see what happens then with the dismissals.”

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