News 02 Dec 15

Serb Leader Warns Bosnia Could Break Up

Milorad Dodik, the president of Bosnia’s Serb-dominated entity Republika Srpska, threatened the possible break-up of the country if the Constitutional Court is not reformed according to his demands.

Srecko Latal
BIRN
Sarajevo
Milorad Dodik. Photo: BETA.

Dodik warned on Tuesday that if a new law to reform the country’s Constitutional Court is not adopted by the state-level parliament within 120 days, all Republika Srpska representatives will withdraw from all state institutions.

“If we move in that direction, we are definitively going into a blockade of Bosnia and Herzegovina, and from that blockade, a break-up [of the country] is not far away,” he told a press conference in Banja Luka.

Leaders of all the main Bosnian Serb parties - both governing and opposition - were angered by last week’s decision by the Constitutional Court that the annual public holiday commemorating the founding of Republika Srpska is unconstitutional because it discriminates against other ethnicities.

Dodik insisted that not only should the mandate of the Constitutional Court change, but that all of its previous decisions - which he said were against Serb interests - should be quashed.

Croat parties in Bosnia and Herzegovina have also joined calls from Serb political leaders urging the reform of the Constitutional Court and the permanent removal of its three foreign judges, who they claim have been ruling against Croats’ interests.

Dodik told media that his Alliance of Independent Social Democrats, SNSD party will also ask the Republika Srpska government and parliament to find resources to reinforce the entity’s police and intelligence services.

He said he wanted the employment of 500 more police officers so Republika Srpska can better address the threat of terrorism.

Dodik has threatened in the past to revive Republika Srpska’s own intelligence agency, which was merged with the agencies from Bosnia’s other entity, the Federation, to form shared state security services.

Some Western diplomats expressed concerns that such a move could be a preparation for an attempt to secede from Bosnia and Herzegovina.

The Constitutional Court is made up of three foreign judges, two Bosniaks, two Croats and two Serbs.

According to media reports the vote on the Republika Srpska public holiday was passed with a majority made up of the three international and two Bosniak judges, with the Serbs and Croat voting against. However, a week later, the court has not published the details.

Bosnian Croat and Serb leaders have criticised the Constitutional Court because the Croat and Serb judges are often outvoted by the Bosniak and international judges.

This has caused Croat parties to demand that the three foreign judges are removed permanently, saying that they give the international community too much influence over constitutional rulings.

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