Bosnia & Herzegovina’s State Investigation and Protection Agency (SIPA) arrested Fahrudin Radoncic, the leader of the centre-right Alliance for a Better Future (SBB), on January 25.
The SBB is the newest member of Bosnia’s ruling coalition, which it joined in October. Radoncic is the second senior member of the party to be arrested this month, potentially putting at risk the stability of Bosnia’s coalition government, where the party is due to take several cabinet seats.
A January 25 statement on SIPA’s website says it has arrested “F. R.” who is accused of obstruction of justice, in operation Lutka 2 (Doll 2). It added that it had a court order to carry out raids on several locations in the Sarajevo area.
SBB issued a statement condemning the arrest of the party leader. “The arrest of SBB’s chairman Fahrudin Radoncic is extremely inappropriate demonstration of force and … attempt to eliminate of a political opponent from clans of criminal families,” the statement reads.
Two weeks earlier, on January 11, SIPA arrested another SBB member - Bakir Dautbasic - a secretary at the security ministry and a candidate for transport minister.
Dautbasic was accused of using threats and promising illegal benefits to secure false testimony from a witness in an investigation conducted by Bosnian and Kosovan prosecutors against suspected drug smuggler Naser Kelmendi. Kelmendi, born in Kosovo, has been under investigation by prosecutions in several Balkan countries for years, and faces 13 charges in Sarajevo.
Radoncic said at the time that Dautbasic is innocent, and insisted that he was the party’s sole candidate for transport minister.
After the November 2014 election, Bakir Izetbegovic, leader of the Party of Democratic Action (SDA) initially refused to cooperate with the SBB due to a personal disagreement with Radoncic, but the two leaders ultimately managed to set aside their personal issues to form the new government.
The crisis within the ruling coalition was precipitated by the decision of the Democratic Front (DF) to quit amid a spat over the management of state-controlled companies in the Bosnian Federation, the larger of the two entities that make up Bosnia & Herzegovina.
The SBB is a centre-right party, founded in 2009 by Radoncic, the founder and owner of Dnevni Avaz daily. He is also active in the construction sector, and built the iconic Avaz Twist Tower skyscraper in Sarajevo in 2009.
Among the parties represented in the federation’s parliament, it was the most acceptable new ally for HDZ BiH and SDA given its pro-EU stance. The party already holds four key ministries in Bosnian Federation.