The Bosnian Serb government declared a three-day mourning period and flags were at half staff Monday after the death of Milan Jelic, president of Bosnia's Serb Republic.
Jelic, 51, died Sunday evening after suffering a heart attack while watching a soccer game in his hometown, Modrica. The Bosnian Serb government, led by Prime Minister Milorad Dodik, declared the mourning period and canceled all cultural and sport events.
Jelic died in the hospital in the town of Doboj and his body will be transferred to Banja Luka Monday. The funeral is planned for Wednesday in Modrica.
Jelic had been elected president of the Serb Republic - one of the two ministates that make up Bosnia and Herzegovina - last year. The other republic is the Bosniak-Croat Federation.
The presidency of the Serb Republic is largely ceremonial, with the true power in the Bosnian Serb ministate lying in the hands of the government and its prime minister.
It remains unclear who might succeed Jelic. Political analyst Tanja Topic said the Serb Republic's constitution does not make clear the chain of succession.
Among possible successors is Dragan Cavic, a former Bosnian Serb president and member of the Serb Democratic Party, who came second to Jelic in last year's elections. It is also possible that one of Jelic's non-Serb deputies - Bosnian Croat Davor Cordas or Muslim Bosniak Adil Osmanovic - could succeed Jelic, Topic said.
Media were Monday also speculating about the chairman of the Bosnian Serb parliament, Igor Radojcic, as a possible successor.
The peace agreement that ended Bosnia's 1992-95 war divided the country into two ministates, each largely autonomous, with its own president, parliament, police and army.
The two are linked by a central government, a parliament and a three-member presidency. Over the years, almost all the ethnically divided structures have been merged and put under state authority, including the army, in which Serbs, Muslim Bosniaks and Croats serve together. A merger of the police is under way.