Bosnia’s Serb entity moves to establish independent elections

Bosnia’s Serb entity is on course to organize its own elections under its own rules, the region’s controversial leader Milorad Dodik said Wednesday, in his latest blow against Bosnia’s weak central government.

The leader of the Republika Srpska (RS) has been pushing for greater autonomy from the Balkan country’s central institutions, amid ethnic fault lines that endure nearly three decades after the end of a bloody civil war.

The RS parliament in June passed a law suspending recognition of rulings made by Bosnia’s constitutional court.

The law was annulled by Bosnia’s international peace envoy, Christian Schmidt, who oversees civilian aspects of the peace deal that ended Bosnia’s 1992-1995 war and has the power to sack elected officials and impose laws.

But Dodik, a Kremlin ally, went on to enact the law anyway, and was subsequently indicted for rejecting the envoy’s authority.

“We are determined to create a new law (…) the electoral law of Republika Srpska,” Dodik told journalists at the end of a meeting with the leaders of the ruling coalition parties in Banja Luka, capital of the Bosnian Serb entity.

The new legislation will entrust an RS electoral commission with organizing elections for the Bosnian Serb entity’s president, as well as its members of parliament and municipal councils.

The central electoral commission, which currently has control of the process, will continue to be responsible for organizing elections for deputies to the central Bosnian parliament and members of the country’s presidency, Dodik explained.

“The law is already ready” and will soon be proposed to the entity’s parliament for adoption “through an accelerated procedure”, he said.

Since the end of the civil war, which claimed almost 100,000 lives, Bosnia has consisted of two semi-autonomous halves, the Serbs’ Republika Srpska and the Muslim-Croat Federation, which share a weak central government.

Under international pressure, major reforms were introduced in the post-war years to strengthen the country’s central institutions, to the detriment of the entities.

But Dodik has sought to reverse that process and frequently stoked ethnic tensions since coming into power in 2006, and even threatening to secede.

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