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News 19 Sep 17

Bosnian Official Sacked for Criticising Serbia’s Vucic

The speaker of the East Sarajevo municipal assembly in Bosnia’s Serb-dominated Republika Srpska entity was sacked for accusing Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic of ‘betrayal’ over Kosovo.

Danijel Kovacevic
BIRN
Banja Luka
Aleksandar Vucic, Serbian President. Photo: Beta

The East Sarajevo municipal assembly dismissed its speaker Dejan Santic on Monday after he said Vucic was guilty of betrayal because Belgrade government-backed Kosovo Serb MPs effectively backed former guerrilla commander Ramush Haradinaj as Kosovo’s new prime minister.

“It is incredible that Vucic, on his visit to East Sarajevo, managed to play down the issue of his parliamentarians in so-called Kosovo and their support for the war criminal Haradinaj!” Santic wrote on Facebook.

“The Republika Srpska media reported this news as some kind of auxiliary news and focused on the promised millions of euros - as if the same euros could overshadow the betrayal,” he added.

During his visit to Bosnia at beginning of September, Vucic promised 5.5 million euros of financial aid to Republika Srpska.

As well as his comment on Facebook, Santic also posted a photo-montage of the Serbian president with a traditional Albanian hat on his head.

The opposition and the ruling majority in the East Sarajevo municipality condemned the statement and voted unanimously to dismiss Santic, who is a member of the Serbian Radical Party, which used to be part of Republika Srpska’s ruling coalition led by the Alliance of the Independent Social Democrats.

The head of the municipality, Ljubisa Cosic, said on Monday that Santic must take “political responsibility” for what he said because responsible politicians who care about their local community do not make such statements.

He denied that Republika Srpska’s President Milorad Dodik ordered Santic's removal, but admitted to consulting with him.

Santic however insisted that he had done nothing wrong.

“It seems that in Republika Srpska, you can no longer express your personal opinion, nor the position of your political party, because you are followed by a media lynch mob and persecution,” he told BIRN.

Belgrade-backed Kosovo Serb party Srpska Lista (Serbian List) MPs voted for Kadri Veseli as Kosovo’s new parliamentary speaker earlier this month, thus allowing his party's coalition ally, the former Kosovo Liberation Army guerrilla leader Haradinaj, to become prime minister and form a government.

The Serbian authorities accuse Haradinaj of having murdered, raped and tortured Serb civilians during the Kosovo war in the late 1990s. He denies committing war crimes.

Serbia has long sought Haradinaj's arrest under an international arrest warrant.

The French authorities detained him at an airport in January, but then decided not to extradite the former Kosovo guerrilla to Belgrade.

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