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news 07 Jun 13

Protesters End Overnight Blockade of Bosnian Parliament

Protesters end blockade of Bosnia's parliament -  which trapped 350 foreign guests for most of the night - after High Representative pledges to solve logjam over personal numbers.

Elvira M. Jukic

After a second day of protests against Bosnia's failure to adopt a law on personal numbers in which protesters blockaded parliament and ministries, the international community's senior official in Bosnia promised to make speedy adoption of the law a priority.

At around 4am on Friday, the High Representative, Valentin Inzko, had to help evacuate around 350 foreign citizens who had become trapped in the parliament at a European Fund for Southeast Europe event hosted by the Bosnian Central Bank.

Bosnian parliamentarians, foreign investors and ministry employees only left on Friday morning after more than 12 hours spent involuntarily on the premises.

Throughout Thursday night there were several attempts to get the foreign guests out of the complex, prompting embassies to complain about the situation.

Protesters only called off the blockade after Inzko pledged to end the logjam over the law on personal numbers by calling a session of the Peace Implementation Council.

The Peace Implementation Council is an international body charged with implementing the 1995 Dayton Peace Agreement for Bosnia and Herzegovina.

“Besides solving finally the question of personal numbers at state-level - because no solutions on entity level come into consideration - we want you to initiate the creation of a fund to treat sick children like Belmina who have to leave the country,” one of the protesters told Inzko.

The protester referered to the case of baby Belmina Ibrisevic whose urgent transport to Germany for treatment was delayed by the wrangle over the law on personal numbers, which prevented her parents from obtaining her passport.

The protesters said they did not want the issue of personal numbers solved at an entity level of government, as Bosnian Serb parties want, as this would further divisions in the country.

The crowd of protesters numbered several thousand on Thursday, falling to several hundred overnight, who remained until the early hours of Friday when Inzko promised to take the initiative.

Bosnian Serb MPs have meanwhile accused Bosniak [Muslim] parties of orchestrating the protests and intimidating the work of parliament. Some Serb lawmakers said they felt physically endangered in Sarajevo.

On Friday, the protests spread to other towns across the country including Tuzla, Zenica, Mostar and Banja Luka.

Protests in Tuzla, Photo by Dusica L. I. Cook
Protests in Tuzla, Photo by Dusica L. I. Cook                                        
Protests in Tuzla, Photo by Dusica L. I. Cook
Protests in Tuzla, Photo by Dusica L. I. Cook
Protests in Tuzla, Photo by Dusica L. I. Cook


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