OHR calls for Republika Srpska to solve residency issue

25/07/2014

The entity plans to create its own residency law in advance of the October general elections, although similar legislation is stalled in the state-level parliament.

By Drazen Remikovic for Southeast European Times in Sarajevo -- 25/07/2014

photo

Republika Srpska President Milorad Dodik said the BiH entity will press forward with a residency law. [AFP]

Despite warnings by the international community and victims' associations, Republika Srpska (RS) President Milorad Dodik said the Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) entity will create its controversial residency law, even after the BiH Constitutional Court declared it unconstitutional.

''They will not succeed in what they are intending to do. Despite this verdict, we will adopt a new document which will be called 'decision.' Then we will adopt another one that will be called 'rules.' And so on to infinity,'' Dodik told reporters after the Constitutional Court's July 5th ruling.

At stake is the legal establishing of residency before the October 1st general elections in BiH. Organisations such as Coalition March 1, which includes more than 30 veteran, victim and displaced persons associations, is seeking to allow all refugees and returnees to register to vote from the places where they were born. However, authorities in RS believe that Coalition March 1 is trying to misuse the refugee issue to unfairly alter the vote.

Mirsad Duratovic, president of the Prijedor '92 War Inmates association, said that such reactions from RS authorities only show the commitment of officials to deny the return of non-Serb populations to the entity.

''However, I don't think they will succeed this time. Thanks to activists of Coalition March 1, a large number of Bosniaks with voting rights are already registered to vote in the October elections, a significant number of them will do it, and during July, when they come to their hometown from the diaspora,'' Duratovic told SETimes.

The international community is encouraging Dodik and all political sides in BiH to support the rule of law.

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"The [Office of the High Representative in BiH] remains very concerned about the ongoing politicisation of the matter of residence in Bosnia and Herzegovina. We call upon the authorities in BiH at all relevant levels to find state-level solutions to the issue of residence and end the unnecessary politicisation of this important matter," Eldar Subasic, spokesman of Office of High Representative in BiH, told SETimes.

RS Minister of Justice Gorana Zlatkovic said she was surprised by the Constitutional Court's decision.

''This is an exclusive competence of the entity, given that the government's decision was made only in respect of the conditions and methods of validation documents on which citizens register and the place of permanent or temporary residence," Zlatkovic told SETimes.

How should BiH and the Republika Srpska entity resolve the residency issue? Add your thoughts in the comments area below.

This content was commissioned for SETimes.com.
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