Serb Nationalist Dodik Elected to Bosnia and Herzegovina Presidency

Serb Nationalist Dodik Elected to Bosnia and Herzegovina Presidency

Election results have stirred tensions in the fragile former Yugoslav republic.

Ethic Serb pro-Russian nationalist Milorad Dodik has been elected to the Serb seat in the three-way Presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina raising tensions in the fragile former Yugoslav Republic.

The 1995 Dayton Agreement which ened the bloody 1992 – 1995 War in Bosnia divided the country along ethnic lines into two semi-autonomous entities: the ethnic Serbian Republika Srpska and the Croat-Muslim Federation, with a loose central government.

On Sunday, the citizens of Bosnia and Herzegovina voted to elect three members of the presidency, representing Orthodox Serbs, Catholic Croats and Bosnian Muslims (Bosniaks).

Dodik has been the President of Republika Srpska since 2010, and has been threatening to hold a secession vote. During his election campaign he met with Russian leader Vladimir Putin in Moscow.

In Sunday’s vote, Dodik unseated moderate incumbent Mladen Ivanic as the Serb representative in the three-way Presidency.

The Croatian seat went to moderate Zeljko Komsic who beat far right nationalist Dragan Covic, while the Bosnian Muslim seat was won by Sefik Dzaferovic of the conservative SDA.

Dodik has vowed to work “solely in the interest and for the benefit of Republika Srpska”, as cited by AFP.

He has called for the closing down of the office of the High Representative, an international entity overseeing peace in Bosnia, and wants to expel foreign members of the constitutional court.

“Dodik will be an obstructionist factor, but the presidency has limited powers. He can block, but not impose decisions,” said Florian Bieber, a professor of southeast European studies at the University of Graz in Austria.

“Dodik is known as a short-tempered person not given to compromise,” commented political analyst in Sarajevo, Ranko Mavrak.

Covic’s nationalist HDZ party is also demanding Croats secede from the union with the Bosniaks. He blamed Bosnian Muslim voters of supporting his rival.

“Muslims cannot chose legitimate representatives to Croats. It is a step bagckwards,” Covic said, adding Komsic’s victory threatened to spark “an unprecedented crisis in Bosnia”.

Mavrak said he did not rule out that the rivals would end up joining forces in a multi-ethnic government.

“When it comes to power, Bosnian politicians are much more ready to make a compromise than it initially seems,” Mavrak said while warning the negotiations to form a Cabinet could take months.

Last week European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker warned of the possibility of a new war in the Western Balkans if the region remained out of the EU.

(Banner image: TV grab from Al Jazeera)

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