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news 11 Jun 13

Thousands Join Bosnia Protests Over ID Logjam

Thousands continue to take to the streets of Sarajevo and other cities as Bosnia’s State Parliament fails to resolve the wrangle over a law on personal numbers.

Kenan Efendic
BIRN
Sarajevo
Protests in Sarajevo, Photo by Kenan Efendic

As protesters organised new mass demonstrations in front of the State Parliament on Tuesday, the international body overseeing Bosnia, the Peace Implementation Council, said using executive powers to push through a law on personal numbers is not an option.

About 4,000 people gathered on Tuesday in front of the parliament while hundreds of taxi drivers have blocked the streets in the area in support of the protests.

Buses of supporters arrived in Sarajevo from Prijedor, Banjo Luka, Mostar, Zenica and Zagreb.

Groups of activists, many of them holding babies, have been protesting in front of the building since last Wednesday, when they blocked exits and kept MPs, staff and foreign visitors trapped on the premises until the following morning.

Professor Enver Kazaz said the chief demand of the protesters, for the adoption of a law on personal numbers, was just a trigger for people to show their dissatisfaction with the situation in the country. The rallies could signal the birth of a more direct democracy in Bosnia and Herzegovina, he said.

The State Parliament has failed to agree on adoption of a new law on personal numbers since March. As a result, parents of newborns have not been able to obtain ID numbers for them, which is basis for other key documents and rights, such as passports and health care.

The protests were galvanised by the case of Belmina Ibrisevic, a baby whose urgent transport to Germany for life-saving treatment was delayed by the wrangle.

Bosnia’s Council of Ministers last week issued a temporary regulation under which ID numbers can be issued. However, protesters have continued to take to the streets, demanding a permanent solution.

After more than 3,000 thousand people gathered in front of the Parliament last Thursday, smaller groups have continued daily since then.

The problem arose after Bosnia's Constitutional Court abolished the existing law on IDs in February, saying the names of several municipalities in the country had to be changed first.

Bosnian Serb MPs in the State Parliament had complained that the existing law did not respect the boundary between the country’s two autonomous entities, the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina and the Republika Srpska.

Following a two-day protest in Sarajevo, protests also took place in Tuzla, Zenica, and Mostar.

Photo by Dusica L. Ikic Cook
Photo by Dusica L. Ikic Cook
Photo by Dusica L. Ikic Cook
Photo by Dusica L. Ikic Cook
Photo by Dusica L. Ikic Cook

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