22 Oct 07
Bosnia Serbs Threaten to Walk out
Sarajevo _ The main governing party in Bosnia’s Serb entity, RS has warned that its representatives will walk out of state institutions, unless planned changes to the government and parliament are withdrawn.
The threat from the Party of Independent Social Democrats, SNSD, came on Sunday in response to an announcement from the international community’s High Representative in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Miroslav Lajcak, to reform the procedures affecting the functioning of the country’s central government and parliament.
According to the Nezavisne Novine daily, senior SNSD officials, including ministers in the Bosnian government, have already written their letters of resignation.
Their move followed Lajcak’s announcement on Friday that he was imposing changes to the law on the central government, the council of ministers, and requesting Bosnian lawmakers to adopt by December 1 reforms on the functioning of the parliament – both with a view to making these institutions operate more efficiently.
Lajcak’s changes mean that Bosnia’s council of ministers can hold sessions whenever a majority of its members are present, and that decisions on certain matters can be made by a majority of those attending.
In future decisions can be passed by the government, as long as the majority includes at least one representative from each of the three constituent peoples – Bosniaks (Muslims), Serbs and Croats – instead of the two currently required.
The second measure, not imposed so far but proposed, stipulates that laws can be passed in Bosnia’s parliament, as long as the majority voting for them includes at least one-third of the deputies from each of Bosnia’s two entities, the RS and the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina which brings together mostly Bosniaks and Croats.
Under the current interpretation of the Rules of Procedure, a successful majority requires the support of one-third of the total number of MPs from each entity – regardless of whether they are attending parliament or not.
Politicians in the Federation have welcomed Lajcak’s move which followed the failure of Bosnia’s leaders to agree on police reforms – thereby halting their country’s process of integration with the EU.
By contrast, RS politicians are opposed to the changes, and media reported that there was even an initiative underway to take Lajcak to the constitutional court.
Lajcak’s office declined to comment on the SNSD’s announcement, saying they needed more time to familiarize themselves with that decision.
Other parties in the RS have reacted in a similar way to the SNSD, calling for unity among all Serb parties in the country.
The Party of Democratic Progress has announced that it will ask for Lajcak’s dismissal.
President of the Serb Democratic Party, Mladen Bosic, has called for an emergency session of the RS national assembly.