A group of citizens gathered in front of the office of Bosnia’s international administrator on Monday morning, requesting the official who oversees the civilian implementation of the 1995 Dayton Peace Agreement to protect the constitutional order and prevent another conflict in Bosnia.
The protesters are concerned about the efforts of the leadership in Bosnia’s semi-autonomous Republika Srpska (RS) entity to undo the reforms the country has completed over the past decades and gain more autonomy, if not completely secede from Bosnia and join neighbouring Serbia – a goal that 30 years ago contributed to the bloody 1992-95 war.
The conflict ended with a peace agreement that divided the country in two semi-autonomous regions, locally called entities, linked into a state by common institutions. Over the years, the two entities agreed to transfer some competencies to the state but Milorad Dodik, the head of the ruling RS party and Serb member of the tripartite BiH Presidency has initiated the process of what his opponents call a disintegration or even complete destruction of the country.
The peace agreement has installed an international administrator in Bosnia, currently German diplomat Christian Schmidt, who has the power to pass and annul laws and remove local officials as high as presidents if they violate the Dayton Peace Agreement and the Constitution it contains.
Suad Djozic from the Restart BH NGO described Bosnia as a society ruled by three “ethno-oligarchies,” without any alternatives.
“They say we have 150 parties. Where are they? I don’t see them here. This moment is more than critical and they should express their position and be here where ordinary citizens came to express their dissatisfaction due to inaction regarding the destruction of the constitutional and legal order,” he said.
“We will hold the High Representative and the institutions of the international community responsible if they conduct and sponsor political negotiations that would represent a trade between the rule of law, ie the Constitution of BiH, decisions of the BiH Constitutional Court as well as international judgments and political agreements that would give amnesty to politicians who openly violate the Dayton Agreement and block the work of BiH institutions,” Djozic said.
“We had tragic events 30 years ago when the international community did not react in time. We want to warn the High Representative in time not to repeat the events from before and not to be the new Thom Karremans (former commander of Dutchbat troops in Srebrenica),” he said, adding, “if that happens, we will hold him responsible.”