Bosnian Muslims initiate referendum on Srebrenica's secession from Republika Srpska

Bosnian Muslims initiate referendum on Srebrenica's secession from Republika Srpska
By Denitsa Koseva in Sofia August 12, 2016

Bosniaks (Bosnian Muslims) living in Bosnia & Herzegovina’s Serb-dominated Republika Srpska, will discuss whether to secede Srebrenica from the entity, Klix.ba reported on August 12.

Bosniaks will initiate a discussion with Srebrenica’s local government on whether to call a referendum on secession among its citizens. The call is a response to the decision of Republika Srpska’s constitutional court to allow a referendum on plans for a Republic Day holiday to go ahead, despite objections from the Muslims living in the mainly ethnic Serb entity. Both proposals are already raising inter-ethnic tensions within Bosnia.

On August 11, the constitutional court ruled that the parliament’s decision to call a referendum on the Republic Day holiday does not harm the vital interests of the Bosniaks.

“We are aware that referendums are not the solution in such situations, but a city, in which a genocide has been made… has no alternative, considering that the OHR [Office of the High Representative] will not stop the direct breach of the Dayton agreement by NSRS [Republika Srpska’s parliament] and by all political actors in Republika Srpska,” Sadik Ahmetovic, representative of the Bosniaks in the parliament, told Klix.ba.

The planned January 9 holiday commemorates the proclamation of the Republic of the Serb People of Bosnia and Herzegovina in January 1992, shortly before the outbreak of the Bosnian civil war. At the time Bosnian Serbs claimed their republic was part of Yugoslavia - rather than Bosnia, which had declared its independence the year before.

The state-level constitutional court previously said the holiday was discriminatory and should not be celebrated until it complies with international human rights legislation. The decision provoked a strong reaction in the Republika Srpska where the government said it showed the need for serious reforms at the constitutional court. Republika Srpska’s authorities eventually decided to celebrate the day despite the ban.

Klix.ba also reported that the OHR has called on Republika Srpska’s authorities to respect the decision of the state-level constitutional court and warned that holding the referendum would breach the 1995 Dayton peace agreement that ended the Bosnian war.

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