More than 1,000 retired Bosnian soldiers staged an angry rally outside the Federation parliament in Sarajevo and clashed with police as they tried to storm the building.
The former fighters, some wearing their military fatigues, gathered outside the Bosniak-Croat Federation entity’s parliament in Sarajevo on Tuesday, shouting: “Thieves! Thieves!” The building had been cordoned off by police in riot helmets.
The veterans want the parliament to adopt a new law giving them improved pensions, even though this would contravene an agreement with the International Monetary Fund, IMF, made as part of a deal that ensured Bosnia a 400-million-euro loan last year.
The IMF believes it would make more financial sense if the authorities regulated the pension rights of former fighters at the state level, rather than separate legislation being introduced by each of the two entities in Bosnia’s complex political system, the Federation and the Serb-led Republika Srpska.
The president of the house of representatives of the Federation’s parliament, Fehim Skaljic, told journalists that he hoped that a law would be adopted that would ensure the veterans’ rights, but insisted that nothing should endanger the IMF agreement.
“We must be aware that the IMF has given us certain demands and it is in the interests of all of us that this IMF agreement not be jeopardised,” said Skaljic.
Representatives of the soldiers met with Federation parliament delegates and agreed a proposal to postpone the vote on the law.
However, when the protesters were told about the delay, some responded with fury and a large group tried to forcefully enter the building before they were pushed back by police. Local television showed images of two demonstrators who were injured in the scuffles.