SARAJEVO, Bosnia and Herzegovina (AP) — The top international official in Bosnia on Tuesday suspended a Bosnian Serb property law that is seen as part of a Bosnian Serb separatist campaign.
Christian Schmidt, who heads the office of the UN High Representative in Bosnia, said the law passed by the Bosnian Serb assembly in February was unconstitutional.
The Bosnian Serbs have refused to withdraw the law, and senior Serbian politician Milorad Dodik said on Tuesday he does not accept Schmidt’s decision.
The legislation aims to transfer ownership of public assets to the Serb-led entity called Republika Srpska, rather than the Bosnian federal state.
The Bosnian government consists of two entities – one led by Bosnian Serbs and the other by Bosniaks and Croats – established under a US-brokered peace agreement that ended the ethnic war of 1992-95. The two semi-autonomous regions are linked by common central institutions.
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Dodik, a pro-Russian politician who is the Serbian member of Bosnia’s multi-ethnic presidency, has repeatedly called for the separation of the Serbian entity from the rest of Bosnia.
Britain on Monday slapped Dodik and Bosnian Serb President Zeljka Cvijanovic with sanctions for undermining peace in the Balkan nation. Dodik already faced US sanctions earlier this year.
He remained defiant on Tuesday, saying that “the property of Republika Srpska remains the property of Republika Srpska”.
Schmidt said his decision “makes it clear that only the state of Bosnia and Herzegovina can dispose of state property or regulate property.”
The Dayton Peace Accord provides for joint decisions in Bosnia to be made by consensus of its ethnic groups. The UN High Representative has the power to suspend laws and officials deemed to violate the peace accord.
The issue of ownership and distribution of state assets remained unresolved for years amid disagreements among Bosnian politicians.
The war in Bosnia killed more than 100,000 people and left millions homeless.
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