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news 26 Mar 15

Ambassador's Resignation Exposes Bosnian Serb Rifts

The Bosnian ambassador to Serbia, a close associate of the President of the Republika Srpska, has resigned amid a deepending power struggle in the Bosnian Serb bloc.

Srecko Latal, Elvira M. Jukic
BIRN
Sarajevo

 

Bosnia’s ambassador to Serbia, Ranko Skrbic, resigned on Wednesday, citing “substantial and conceptual disagreements with the current policy in Bosnia and Herzegovina,” local media reported Skrbic’s resignation letter as saying.

 

The documentary by the Online Magazine Zurnal is about Skrbic's business activities in the past 20 years and mentions several corruption scandals that he was allegedly involved in, concerning the health care funds of Republika Srpska and Serbia.

The Presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina has confirmed receipt of the resignation of ambassador Skrbic and said it will discuss the matter on one of its next sessions.

“I don't want to be an exponent of such a policy of Bosnia and Herzegovina, and I want even less to implement such a foreign policy towards Serbia,” Skrbic said in the resignation letter submitted to the Bosnian Presidency.

Skrbic’s appointment a year-and-a-half ago has became one of the most disputed issues in the Serb-dominated entity of Republika Srpska.

For years he has been considered a close associate of Milorad Dodik, the president of Republika Srpska and the leader of its strongest party, the Alliance of Independent Social Democrats, SNSD.

Opposition parties, civil society and some independent media organizations accused him him of involvement in corruption scandals during his time as a former health minister.

The Bosnian Serb opposition Party of Democratic Progress, PDP - whose leader, Mladen Ivanic, is the Chairman of the Bosnian Presidency - on Wednesday said Skrbic only resigned because he knew that the Bosnian Presidency would dismiss him on Thursday.

“Skrbic knew the whole of Republika Srpska expected him to be dismissed over numerous malpractices and corruption scandals that were linked to his name,” the party's statement noted.

Skrbic’s resignation is likely to strengthen the opposition bloc, built around the main opposition Serbian Democratic Party, SDS.

Despite its falling popularity, the SNSD has retained in power in Republika Srpska following last year's elections. But it has had to move into opposition at state level, where Bosniak and Croat parties have selected the Serbian opposition bloc as its partner in the ruling coalition.

Tensions between the SNSD, the Serb opposition bloc and Bosniak and Croat parties from the Federation entity have intensified over the past few weeks over the distribution of key positions in state and entity institutions.

The SNSD has blocked the work of the state House of Representatives since the beginning of the year, and the state parliament's House of Peoples since last week, in an apparent attempt to win some key positions in parliamentary bodies.

A senior Bosnian Serb politician told Balkan Insight on Wednesday that Skrbic’s resignation came after Serbian President Tomislav Nikolic indicated to Dodik at their meeting on Tuesday that Serbia will not support Dodik’s attempts to stymie reforms.

“This forecasts a further deepening of power struggles, not only between the SNSD and SDS, but also within the SNSD,” the same source told Balkan Insight.

 

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