Bosnia parliament dismisses ministers, crisis deepens

Reuters News
Posted: Oct 22, 2012 1:58 PM
Bosnia parliament dismisses ministers, crisis deepens

By Maja Zuvela

SARAJEVO (Reuters) - Members of parliament in Bosnia voted to dismiss the country's defense and security ministers on Monday, forcing a reshuffle of the fractious ruling coalition.

MPs ousted the two ministers and a deputy finance minister from the ranks of the country's largest Bosnian Muslim (Bosniak) party, the SDA, after it refused to vote for Bosnia's 2012 state budget.

The dismissals could see the largest Croat party, HDZ, replace the SDA in the ruling coalition.

The turmoil is part of a long-running power struggle between the SDA and the co-ruling Social Democratic Party (SDP) over the right to represent the Bosniaks.

Bosnia has been governed along ethnic lines since the 1992-95 war, which killed an estimated 100,000 people and split the country into two autonomous regions ruled by a weak central government.

An inconclusive election in 2010 led to more than a year of political paralysis as rival Serb, Croat and Bosniak leaders argued over how to form a national government.

The impasse was broken at the end of 2011 and a government was elected in February this year, but divisions resurfaced over the budget, which the SDA said was not big enough for the functioning of the central state.

"This is not the end of the crisis created after the 2010 vote; it will go on," Deputy Finance Minister Fuad Kasumovic told reporters after parliament voted to remove him alongside Security Minister Sadik Ahmetovic and Defence Minister Muhamed Ibrahimovic.

The vote was initiated by the SDP.

The SDA has portrayed the dispute as a matter of national interest, arguing that the SDP cannot truly represent the Bosniaks given that it counts other ethnic groups among its ranks and voters.

But critics see a naked battle for power and patronage that could delay reforms that Bosnia must adopt if it is to catch up with the rest of the ex-Yugoslavia on the road to join the European Union.

Complicating matters further, parliament on Tuesday will vote on a motion filed by the Serb caucus to replace Foreign Minister Zlatko Lagumdzija, the leader of the SDP, over allegations that he over-stepped his mandate in a vote this year at the United Nations on Syria.

The outcome of the vote is uncertain.

(Editing by Daria Sito-Sucic, Matt Robinson and Andrew Osborn)