Republika Srpska president reportedly to face charges over banned referendum

By bne IntelliNews January 19, 2017

A well known Bosnian political blogger has claimed that Republika Srpska’s President Milorad Dodik and the entity’s Prime Minister Zeljka Cvijanovic will face charges over the 2016 referendum held in defiance of a constitutional court ban. 

Republika Srpska held the referendum on the celebration of Republic Day despite a ban from the state-level constitutional court, a move that raised tensions within Bosnia. A few days after the referendum, the state-level prosecution launched an investigation.

Bosnia & Herzegovina’s state-level prosecution will reportedly file charges against Dodik and Cvijanovic for aiding the commitment of a criminal act due to their participation in the organisation of the referendum in September 2016, wrote Slobodan Vaskovic on January 19.

“My sources say that Dodik and Zeljka Cvijanovic will be accused of aiding the commitment of criminal act and official charges will be filed against them,” Vaskovic said.

He added that, according to his sources, the prosecution will interrogate Cvijanovic next week over her role in organising the referendum.

“According to reliable sources, Republika Srpska’s prime minister is charged with aiding in the commission of a crime as she signed a decision of the government of RS to allocate BAM1.7mn (€870,000) for the organisation and holding of the referendum, although the referendum was temporary banned by the constitutional court,” Vaskovic said.

Daily Nezavisne Novine reported that the prosecution will also interrogate Mladen Ivanic, the Serb member of Bosnia’s tripartite presidency, on his role in the organisation of the referendum.

Dodik was also summoned last year, but he did not go to the prosecution office in Sarajevo, claiming that he would answer all the questions from the state-level prosecution on the referendum, but he would not feel safe going to Sarajevo following a statement made by Bakir Izetbegovic, the Bosniak member of the state-level tripartite presidency.

Izetbegovic, who is also the leader of the Bosniak Party of Democratic Action (SDA), said that Dodik would have to face the consequences of the referendum. He described it as a “notorious example of a violation” of the Dayton peace agreement that ended the 1992-1995 Bosnian war. Izetbegovic then compared Dodik to the slain Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi.

In return, Dodik described Izetbegovic’s comment as a threat, accusing the president of inviting extremist groups to attack him. Dodik also said he was considering filing a claim against Izetbegovic.

Meanwhile, the US department of the treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) recently imposed sanctions against Dodik over the Republic Day celebrations earlier in January.

Republic Day marked the anniversary of the proclamation of the Republic of the Serb People of Bosnia and Herzegovina in 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. 

January 9 is also an Orthodox religious holiday, the Day of St Stephen, which is not observed by Catholic Croats or Muslim Bosniaks. In 2015, Bosnia’s constitutional court decided that the celebration of Republic Day in the entity contains elements of discrimination and should not be held until it meets the criteria of international legislation for human rights.

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