Bosnian Serbs to hold referendum on court?


Milorad Dodik stirs the political waters with a new proposal.

By Ljiljana Smiljanic for Southeast European Times in Banja Luka –15/03/11


Republika Srpska President Milorad Dodik seeks more autonomy for the entity. [Reuters]

Republika Srpska (RS) President Milorad Dodik announced on Friday (March 11th) that he will propose holding a referendum on whether the Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) and the prosecutor's office should exist in the present form.

"If the RS citizens decide in this referendum that this kind of court and prosecutor's office are not necessary and have no support in RS, the representatives from RS should leave those institutions," he said.

Dodik is confident that parliament will endorse the idea. His political rivals, however, have a different view.

The leading opposition party in RS, the Serbian Democratic Party (SDS), says a referendum would be a waste of time and money.

"We call on political parties to use referendums as a democratic method for solving the most important issues concerning the future of RS, and not for everyday political purposes," SDS leader Mladen Bosic said.

A catalyst for Dodik's proposal was the case of former BiH army general Jovan Divjak, who was arrested on March 3rd in Vienna.

Belgrade authorities issued a warrant for the so-called Dobrovoljacka ulica [Dobrovoljacka Street] case, in which Divjak was found to be responsible for the 1992 deaths of 42 soldiers from the former Yugoslav Army.

Divjak's arrest and release on bail five days later caused a stir in BiH. In Sarajevo, protestors demanded his release, while RS authorities said he should face court.

The BiH prosecutor is also investigating the case, but Dodik says they are not doing enough to punish those responsible.

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Dodik has vowed that RS police will arrest Divjak, Ejup Ganic and others indicted by the Serbian authorities involved in the Dobrovoljacka case, should they ever be found in the Bosnian Serb entity. Once apprehended, he says, they will be extradited to Serbia.

The leading Bosniak political force, the Party of Democratic Action (SDA), said Dodik's behaviour is proof that the police in RS are under political influence.

"This is an open attack on the rule of law and constitutional order of BiH -- there is no democratic country where representatives of executive power or political parties' leaders could issue an arrest warrant," the SDA said in an official statement. "That practice is only possible in a totalitarian regime, and Dodik is a follower of that regime."

High Representative for BiH Valentin Inzko said the arrests would be illegal, and that when it comes to war crimes the state is in charge.

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