News 27 Sep 16

Milorad Dodik: I Won’t Be Safe in Sarajevo

Milorad Dodik, the president of Bosnia’s Serb-dominated entity Republika Srpska, said his security has been jeopardised by a Bosniak political leader who compared him to slain Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi.

Eleanor Rose, Danijel Kovacevic
BIRN
Sarajevo, Banja Luka
Republika Srpska President Milorad Dodik. Photo: Anadolu

Dodik said on Tuesday that he does not feel safe enough to go to Sarajevo to answer calls to attend a prosecution hearing after Republika Srpska held a controversial referendum in defiance of a ban by the state Constitutional Court.

“I said earlier that I will answer every call from the court and prosecutor's office, but not in Sarajevo,” he told a press conference in Banja Luka broadcast live by RTRS TV.

“Anywhere else I will go and give my statement, but not in Sarajevo,” he added

Dodik said the Bosniak chairman of Bosnia’s tripartite presidency, Bakir Izetbegovic, had compared him to the slain Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi.

This was an invitation for extremist groups to attack him, claimed Dodik.

“If [the state prosecution wants] to arrest me, that is their problem but I don't want to jeopardise my safety by going to Sarajevo,” he insisted.

The outspoken Bosnian Serb leader, who championed the banned referendum that took place on Sunday, was called on Monday by the state prosecution to answer questions over defying the Constitutional Court’s ban.

He responded later the same day by saying he was not afraid of arrest.

Dodik told Tuesday's press conference he had asked MPs from his party, the Alliance of Social Democrats, SNSD, to file a motion asking the Constitutional Court to consider whether March 1, the public holiday observed in the Federation entity of Bosnia, was unconstitutional.

The Constitutional Court ruled last year that holding the annual Day of Republika Srpska on January 9 was discriminatory against non-Serbs in the entity because it was also a Serbian Orthodox religious holiday.

January 9 was the day in 1992 that Bosnia’s Serbs declared the foundation of Republika Srpska, which the country’s Bosniaks see as a precursor to the war that broke out soon afterwards.

Dodik said he wanted the Constitutional Court to consider whether the March 1 public holiday observed in the Federation was unconstitutional “using the same criteria and arguments they used in assessing the RS National Day”.

The reason, he said, was that March 1 marks the day in 1992 that Bosnians voted for independence from Yugoslavia – a referendum boycotted by the country’s Serbs.

According to Dodik, it triggered the war and the celebration of that day discriminates against Serbs living in the Federation.

The motion will be sent by Thursday, said Dodik.

He added that he also plans a second motion to the state-level court to assess the constitutionality of all laws and decisions passed by the parliament of the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina since the elections in 2014.

The reason, he said, was the fact that there are fewer Serbs sitting in the Federation’s House of Peoples than from Bosnia’s other two main ethnic groups, the Croats and Bosniaks.

Western diplomats are concerned that the banned referendum undermined the Dayton Agreement that ended the war of 1992 to 1995, and analysts fear that it has led to an increase in divisive nationalist rhetoric.

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