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news 11 Feb 14

Bosnia Protesters Press Demand for PM to Go

As hundreds of protesters remain in the streets of Sarajevo, Tuzla and other towns in Bosnia, Bosnian Serb leaders insist their real aim is to destabilize the country's mainly Serbian entity.

Elvira M. Jukic

Several hundred protesters blocked the main streets of Sarajevo on Tuesday, demanding that the Federation entity Prime Minister, Nermin Niksic, resign, which he has refused to do, saying he would only do so if parliament calls early elections.

Niksic's Social Democratic Party, SDP, as well as the other mainly Bosniak party, the Party of Democratic Action, SDA, both now lean towards early elections.

However, Serbian and Croatian leaders have said they doubt a majority of lawmakers will back the idea.

Milorad Dodik, President of Republika Srpska, the Serbian dominated entity, said that problems in the Federation are no reason to call early elections throughout the country; problems exist in a few Federation cantons and should be solved there, he said.

He also maintained that the protests were politically motivated and aimed to destabilize the Republika Srpska.

While the protesters remain on the streets, plenums of citizens have been organising, to flesh out their core demands.

A plenum set up in Tuzla Canton has demanded the resignation of the police commissioner, among others.

It also demanded guarantees of peace and security for citizens and protesters, as well as an investigation into the placement of what it called false and misleading information about the protests.

In Sarajevo Canton, a citizens' plenum has planned a meeting for Wednesday after which it will release its demands. The cantonal prime minister, Suad Zeljkovic, has already resigned over the protests.

In Sarajevo, workers for the city transport company announced that they would take to the streets on Monday afternoon.

In Zenica, central Bosnia, local people gathered to demand the resignation of the mayor, Husejin Smajlovic. The cantonal prime minister, Munib Husejnovic, resigned last week.

Several hundred people also gathered in Mostar, southwest Bosnia, on Tuesday, to express dissatisfaction with social problems. They made a point of saying that the protests were not from one ethnic group but involved all citizens in the ethnically divided Herzegovinian town.

While the protesters in the streets of Sarajevo are demanding the resignation of Niksic, in some smaller towns, protests are just starting, including Kalesija, avidovici, Livno and others.

People in Brcko District have also been on the streets, demanding new measures to improve the overall situation and curb corruption and crime.

While some protests have occurred in Bosnia's mainly Serbian entity, Republika Srpska, including in Zvornik, Prijedor or Bijeljina, the key political parties in the entity have been quick to denounce the protests as manipulated.

While the protesters have called for lower salaries for civil servants, more jobs and less corruption, leading officials in Republika Srpska, including President Dodik, insist that the protesters are overwhelmingly Bosniak and that the protests are aimed at destabilizing Republika Srpska.

Glas Srpske, the most widely circulated daily newspaper in the entity, has even led with a cover story, claiming that protesters in the Federation were being armed and prepared for sorties into to the Serb-dominated entity.

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