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news 10 Feb 14

Bosnian Protesters Urge More Politicians to Resign

People rallied in several towns across Bosnia, demanding more concessions after four cantonal prime ministers resigned and police released protesters held in last week’s unrest.

Elvira M. Jukic
BIRN
Sarajevo

Around 1,000 protesters gathered in front of the fire-damaged Bosnian presidency in Sarajevo on Monday, one of several government buildings burned during last week’s outbreak of unrest, while demonstrators also held peaceful rallies in several other parts of the country.

The Sarajevo protesters then marched to the Bosniak-Croat Federation government building, demanding more resignations.

Several hundred people gathered meanwhile in front of the badly-damaged cantonal government building in Tuzla, the northern industrial town where the unrest over unemployment, corrupt privatisations and the country’s dire economic situation started last Wednesday, at rallies led by workers at major factories that went bust after being sold off by the state.

In the town of Bijeljina in the Serb-led entity of Republika Srpska, there were two rival protests: one against the local government, the other in support of the Serb authorities.

The Croat and Bosniak members of the tripartite state presidency, Zeljko Komsic and Bakir Izetbegovic, turned up for work at their riot-damaged building in Sarajevo on Monday before being advised to go home by police, citing security fears.

Himzo Selimovic, the director of the police coordinating body which is responsible for security at the presidency, also resigned on Sunday, saying that his agency did everything it could to prevent the chaos in Sarajevo but adding he could not guarantee security for political leaders at the building.

New rallies were announced for Monday in Bugojno, Livno and Prijedor by people who said on social networks that one of their aims was achieving the resignation of the Federation entity government. Police in Mostar however said that a planned protest in the south-western town should not go ahead because it was not authorised.

Meanwhile people in the north-western town of Bihac, which has also seen unrest in recent days, ended their protests on Sunday after the resignation of the prime minister of the Una-Sana canton, Hamdija Lipovaca.

The Social Democratic Party, SDP, and the Party of Democratic Action, the two main Bosniak parties, said in separate statements on Sunday that they will call for early elections because of the situation.

“If the lawmakers do not accept and adopt this proposal, we call on the High Representative Valentin Inzko [the top international official in Bosnia] to call for early elections since he has a mandate for that,” the SDP said.

Meanwhile the main Serb parties’ leaders, Milorad Dodik of Alliance of Independent Social Democrats and Mladen Bosic of the Serb Democratic Party, met the Serbian Deputy Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic in Belgrade and said that Republika Srpska was not involved in the unrest and that the protests were held exclusively by Bosniaks in the Federation entity.

“These ongoing protests show that Bosnia and Herzegovina cannot survive internal challenges and that it doesn’t function,” Dodik said.

Croatian Prime Minister Zoran Milanovic on Sunday paid a visit to Mostar, where Croats are in the majority, saying that he wanted a peaceful resolution to the recent unrest.

“I came here to calm the situation,” said Milanovic.

But he was criticised by Komsic, the Croat member of Bosnian tripartite Presidency, who said that Milanovic should not have just visited the Croat-majority area of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

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Background

The ‘Bosnian Spring’ Starts With a Bang

The Bosnian protests are the result of years of corruption, economic decay and in-fighting among ethno-political elites, but it is far from certain that they can bring real change.