General elections as a test for a referendum on RS independence

General elections as a test for a referendum on RS independence

General elections, scheduled for October, will bring a lot of changes on the political scene in Bosnia and Herzegovina since some of the key players must, according to law, abandon their current positions. The most important changes in persons are BiH Presidency member, Bakir Izetbegović, and Republika Srpska President, Milorad Dodik, because they are on their second mandate and cannot be candidates for a third time in a row.

Izetbegović has yet to announce his intentions regarding the post he will continue his political career from. Dodik, on the contrary, for some time has been giving signs that he will be Alliance of independent social democrats (SNSD) candidate for the BiH Presidency member from RS. The history of the BiH Presidency is very interesting, but members of this body don’t have too much influence on the political events in the country. Members are mostly responsible for foreign policy, represent the country in visits to other states and have other minor duties. According to the elections system, one member of Serb nationality is elected from Republika Srpska and two others, of Bosniak and Croat, from Federation BiH. The system has been disputed at the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg in several cases, with “Sejdić-Finci” being the most known. BiH is obligated to implement the Court decision and give the right of candidacy to all citizens regardless of nationality. This means that the BiH Presidency could possibly have a different composition than it has had in the last 22 years. Whatever happens however, the position of BiH Presidency member will remain the peak in a political career for all politicians in the state.

Now, Milorad Dodik is known as a politician who is not ready to be so passive in the political life of the country, as the Presidency member is by Law. So the question is: why would he wish to be in that position and decide about BiH ambassadors and other foreign policy matters and, for four years, be absent from RS entity institutions? Why would he want a position that would put his political career in its final stretch?

The answer is simple: For Milorad Dodik there is one higher position in the political hierarchy and he is working on it for the last decade.

It is the position of the President of an Independent Republika Srpska!

The idea of a “peaceful dissolution of BiH” is one of the reasons that the US administration imposed sanctions against Dodik, a year ago. Officially, the sanctions were imposed because “Dodik was designated for his role in defying the Constitutional Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina in violation of the rule of law, thereby actively obstructing the Dayton Accords; Dodik was also designated for conduct that poses a significant risk of actively obstructing the same”. Also, in the recent report to the US Senate, Dodik was marked as the “Russian man” on the Balkans. The Report also says that Russia supported the referendum on Republika Srpska independence, which never actually took place, but still is one of Dodik’s options for the future, as he has confirmed in almost every public statement.

Recently, Dodik stated that if citizens elect him at the position of a member of the BiH Presidency, he would not have his office in Sarajevo but in East Sarajevo, on Republika Srpska territory. Also, he stated that will not take his oath in Sarajevo, but in Banja Luka. During his supposed mandate, he will try to force the BiH Presidency to give back the competencies transferred from entity to state level in the last 20 years. It, in practice, means that he will dedicate his mandate to weaken the central state government and to strengthen Republika Srpska.

So, if citizens accept these ideas, and elect Dodik for the BiH Presidency member, it will be a clear sign that they want to see Republika Srpska independent and he will have the go ahead to work on it. At the same time, if international community let him establish his office in East Sarajevo and undermine the role of Sarajevo as BiH capital, and let him to take oath in Banja Luka, RS capital, they will give him a reason to believe that they agree with his ideas.

The only conclusion is that Dodik will use the General Elections as a test on public and international community opinion about his dream – an independent Republika Srpska, with Milorad Dodik as its first president./IBNA