Fallout continues from 7 May violence
The Republika Srpska (RS) Government dismissed senior entity officials Tuesday for their roles (or lack thereof) in last week's riots in Banja Luka. Deputy Police Minister Brano Pecanac was removed, and the government accepted the resignations of Internal Affairs Minister Perica Bundalo and RS Intelligence Service Director Dobrislav Planojević for not doing enough in securing the town for a cornerstone ceremony on May 7 that marked the rebuilding of the Ferhadija Mosque. Serb nationalist rioters stoned Muslims bussed in for the ceremony, put buses on fire and trapped about 300 Muslims and international officials in the Islamic Community Center for six hours.
The incident prompted the international community in Bosnia to demand that RS leaders finally live up to their promises to uphold the Dayton Peace Accords, human rights and the rule of law in the entity. RS President Mirko Šarović's cabinet announced on Monday that he had established a committee for reforms and reconciliation to deal with reforming social relations and to help form a society through dialogue and reconciliation.
To some, however, the Banja Luka violence underscored a fundamental problem with Dayton—that, by awarding 49 percent of Bosnia to the Bosnian Serbs, it rewarded and not punished those responsible for ethnic cleansing during the 1992-95 war. It also cemented Bosnia's wartime divisions by creating two separate entities—the RS and the Muslim-Croat Federation. Croatian leaders, in particular, have publicly stated in the past few months that Bosnia is not a viable state, while it is still divided into entities. Croatian Prime Minister Ivica Račan told Zagreb's Globus this week that Bosnia needs to get rid of its entities in order to become a stable country.
"The RS, in its present form, should certainly be abolished. The abolishment of such RS is a prerequisite for the stability of BiH," Račan said. "Such entities which are dividing BiH should be abolished. They are a symbol but also generators of a Bosnia in conflict, in which new conflicts can only be avoided through great efforts exerted by the international community."
Croats back in Federation Army
Croat soldiers, who have left the Federation Army in recent months to support a nationalist Croat party's bid for Croat self-rule, will now return as per an agreement made between the Federation Defense Ministry and a former military commander on Wednesday.
"After a lengthy series of negotiations and discussions, we have finally found a solution which will be mutually satisfying and useful for the Croat people and, especially, for the Croat part of the Federation Army," Federation Defense Minister Mijo Anić was quoted in Oslobođenje Thursday.
The government has promised not to make unilateral reductions in the number of Croat troops in the army, and will spend the next two to three weeks establishing the exact number of Croat soldiers and settling all relevant personnel issues. The agreement came after both sides raised the stakes in a crisis that has been going on since the Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ) and several smaller Croat parties declared Croat self-rule at the beginning of March—the government by bringing criminal charges against three nationalist leaders and the self-rule supporters by turning out in droves to protest the government's takeover of a Croat base in Kiseljak.
The Federation Defense Ministry on Tuesday pressed charges against the Croat leaders for undermining the ministry's powers. Former BiH Presidency member Ante Jelavić (whom the international community dismissed after the Croat self-rule declaration), former Federation Defense Minister Miroslav Prce and former Federation Army deputy commander Lt Col Dragan Čurčić have been charged with illegally dissolving the Croat part of the army.
Former commander of Mostar's First Guardian Corps Zlatan Mijo Jelić addressed the 2000 protesters in Kiseljak, informing them about the agreement and asking them to disperse so that the Federation soldiers in the base could get out.
Bombs damage party offices
Bombs damaged the offices of the Social Democratic Party (SDP) in Vitez and the New Croat Initiative (NHI) in Novi Travnik early Wednesday. No one was injured.
Both political parties are in the Alliance for Changes coalition that now leads the central BiH government as well as the Federation government. Onasa reported SDP vice-president Ljubiša Marković as saying that the attacks show that nationalists are unhappy with the changes. He said the attacks were related to both the recent RS riots and to the Mostar riots in April, because all such actions had the goal of destabilizing the country and stopping the democratic changes the Alliance is trying to make.
BH Press reported that police found leaflets at the Vitez train station threatening international officials and moderate Croat leaders. The leaflets called BiH Presidency member Jozo Križanović, Federation President Karlo Filipović, FBiH Defense Minister Mijo Anić and others "traitors," and begged, "Please don't place weapons in our hands again."
Beth Kampschror, 18 May 2001
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