Referendum endangered stability in BiH

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Republic of Srpska conducted the first referendum in the history and second in BiH. It is important to remind that first referendum in BiH was at March 1 1992, when majority of Bosniaks and Croats decided to declaretheir  independence. Shortly after that war in Bosnia begun.

The referendum, which was conducted on Sunday didn’t ask the citizens such important question as state independence. Citizens of RS were asked to decide whether they want January 9 to remain as RS Day in the future.This holiday was brought into question by Bosniak member of BiH Presidency and the leader of biggest Bosniak party SDA, Bakir Izetbegovic. He submitted the appeal to Constitutional Court to decide if that holiday in accordance with the Constitution. The reason for the appeal was the fact that this holiday is not the holiday of all RS citizens regardless of their nationality. The Constitutional court accepted the appeal and the crisis begun.

Despite the ban of the referendum, RS president, Milorad Dodik, decided to continue and to hold it. The referendum took place on Sunday and between 55 and 60 percent of citizens decided to go on the polling places and set the answer. 99 percent of them said “YES” for January 9 as RS Day. After the polling stations were closed, Dodik told to media that RS demonstrated its political strength and citizens’ will, but didn’t put anyone at risk by holding the referendum. He thanked everyone who supported the referendum, every individual who voted.

The Srpska president added that Serbs had demonstrated political maturity and resolve.

“We have received an absolutely positive result and I am happy to say that this day will stay in history”, Dodik said on the press conference in Banja Luka.

RS PM, Zeljka Cvijanovic, said that citizens recognised the importance of this holiday. She announced that the Law on Public Holidays could be reviewed on October 11, when the session of the National Assembly should be held.

“Paragraph 1, article 5 of the Law on RS Holidays will be deleted, which removes the obligation to celebrate Republika Srpska Day for those who cannot identify themselves with that holiday. We believe that this meets demands of Constitutional Court decisions, but we are open to all suggestions. We have six months to define relevant legal acts after the finalisation of the formal and procedural parts”, Cvijanovic said.

On the other side of the boundary between the entities, in BiH Federation, politicians are united on the demand for sanctions for all those who were involved in the organization of the referendum. Izetbegovic and Ramiz Salkic, Bosniak vice president of Republic of Srpska, demand the prompt reaction of international community since the “RS violated the Dayton peace agreement”. Their call for sanctions howevr, can be also the main obstacle for it because any international community action will be understood as the fulfilling of the Bakir Izetbegovic will.

The whole situation gave voice to those who are not satisfied with the RS existence and announce a new war against Serbs. On the email addresses of many institutions on Sunday arrived the message of radical islamists who threat that “Serb blood will flow through the streets”.

Dodik made his move and now waits for the other parties to make their own.

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