Political crisis in Bosnia deepens

Ten years after the signing of the Dayton peace agreement, which ended civil war in Bosnia in November 1995, the country faces a political crisis and centrifugal forces are on rise, despite the efforts of the international community to strengthen central government.

Under the Dayton accord, the country was divided into two entities, the Federation of Bosnia-Herzegovina (FBH), comprising majority Muslims and minority Croats, while Serbs, as the second biggest nationality, were granted their own entity, Republika Srpska (RS) with large autonomy and most state attributes.

The high representative of the international community, which safeguards peace in Bosnia, Paddy Ashdown, has for the past three years been gradually stripping the entities of their powers strengthening central government, despite Serb protests.

But Croats, who represent 17 per cent of Bosnia’s population, have intensified the drive for their own entity, saying they were deprived of basic human rights in FBH.

As the tenth anniversary of signing of the peace agreement nears, the international community has been calling for the revision of the Dayton accord to strengthen central government, which suits majority Muslims. Serbs, on the other hand, want to retain RS with the same prerogatives granted at Dayton, while Croats call for a review of the accords and the creation of their own entity.

Ashdown’s reformist efforts, after the creation of joint customs services and a joint army, stumbled on the attempt to create a unified police force, which RS government and parliament persistently refuse. In retaliation, Ashdown has slapped financial sanctions on RS ruling Serbian Democratic Party (SDS), which responded by threatening to pull out of government and institutions on all levels, creating a major political crisis.

Dragan Covic, president of the Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ), the main Croat political force in Bosnia, has said the party’s Main Committee will officially put forward a demand for a third entity at a meeting in early October, AKI reports.

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