In the last two decades Republic of Srpska National Assembly (RS NA) has never experienced such turbulent events as the ones in the last two days. Opposition MPs completely blocked the session in main hall of the RS NA, but the ruling coalition majority, supported by Bosniak and Croat MPs gathered in coalition “Homeland”, held the session in small hall where opposition MPS were not able to approach because the Speaker, Nedjeljko Cubrilovic, banned them from participating to this session. Moreover, “Homeland” MPs supported the ruling coalition, but it is necessary to mention that the members of the Party of Democratic Action (SDA), mainly Bosniak and part of this coalition, on state level are in coalition with parties which are in RS opposition. Confusing? Yes, it is.
The RS NA session finished in absence of opposition MPs and in the manner ruling coalition arranged. RS police prevented opposition MPs to participate in the session despite the statement of Speaker that “police officers will not use force against democratically elected MPs”. After a few minutes of discussion on the edge of scuffle, opposition MPs withdrew and tensions seemed to dissipate. As a result of all these unplesantries, the opposition, along with three demands they previously announced, have another one: the removal of Minister of Interior, Dragan Lukac, from his position. Opposition leaders, at the press conference on Thursday, said that they will insist on fulfillment of all demands or every session in the future will be interrupted in same manner – standing at the stage behind RS NA Speaker and his deputies.
Indeed, it is clear that opposition, after many years of missed attempts to overthrow SNSD and their coalition partners from the power in RS, is awaken and ready to act. The question is not why are they doing this because it is clearly the wish of every opposition in the world. Also, the question is not how they plan to do it because they have shown it in a very obvious manner.
The real question is: why now?
For the last 11 years SNSD, its leader Milorad Dodik and his coalition partners are on power in RS and the opposition, along with general and local elections, made many attempts to change the situation in their favour, but never quite succeeded. Now they are trying to switch the positions saying that this situation in fact is dictatorship of one man – Milorad Dodik, and that it must be changed. But, general elections are scheduled for October 2018 and Dodik will not be able to be a candidate for RS president, since he had been elected in the last two mandates. This means that Dodik will step down next year by the force of the law. Opposition didn’t remove him in last seven years and it is almost impossible to happen in his last year in office. Opposition Party of Democratic Progress leader and MP in RS NA, Branislav Borenovic, admit that it was necessary to hace acted earlier.
“Probably it was necessary to act immediately after learning about the affair of the “MP’s purchase”, at the beginning of this mandate, but no one believed that the government was ready to completely extinguish the judicial and police institutions in their obligation to fight corruption and crime. After three years, it is completely clear that the darkest form of the regime is in power, and we have decided to stop further lawlessness and dictatorship. The justification that we are the destroyers of the RS only because we are asking for a debate on the budget revision is a reflection of panic and fear of ruling parties from the responsibility of robbery and autocracy that they introduced in RS”, said Borenovic for IBNA.
The “MPs purchase” he mentioned, was the situation right after last general elections when ruling coalition majority in RS NA was under question. Some media published tapped phone conversation of RS PM, Zeljka Cvijanovic, with an unidentified person where she explained that the “SNSD purchased a few MPs”. The next session partially confirmed this transaction since few opposition MPs abandoned their position in their parties and joined the ruling coalition, giving them enough hands in the air to form assembly majority. The case was never fully investigated.
Borenovic’s colleague in RS NA, but from the ruling coalition, Vanja Bajic, said for IBNA that this situation had in fact been formed during the early election campaign.
“Obviously, colleagues from opposition parties realized too late that they lost the support of voters at the beginning of the mandate, which can easily be concluded on the basis of interviews with the citizens of RS, and the day-to-day departure of their members from the party.
With this last protest by the opposition in the RS NA, in my opinion, the opposition practically no longer exists in RS parliamentary life. It is ultimately hypocritical and completely irresponsible to try to make a physical blockade of the work of the National Assembly and try to cause a physical incident, to present themselves to the public as some kind of victims, then to show that they are not allowed to do their job. In this manner they are trying to create some kind of the feeling that there is no democracy in RS, which of course did not succeed”, Bajic emphasized.
Bajic said that, although the Speaker of the National Assembly pronounced the measure and banned participation on the session to colleague from the opposition who physically tried to block the work of the Assembly, he is proud that there was no fight. He also argues that a smart and excellent solution was found for the continuation of the session and noted that out of 83 deputies, 50 deputies attended the session.
“I believe that the opposition’s colleagues will realize how big is the mistake they made and that they will return to the struggle through normal political dialogue. I assume that in the future, they will try to cause various protests and riots in the streets, because there is nothing left for them. On the other hand, I believe that RS citizens are aware of the situation and will not answer to calls by the opposition for protests, demonstrations and unrest.
In the end, I am sure that the main reason for the physical blockade of the work of the National Assembly, as well as provoking riots and protests in the streets, is precisely the poor preparation of the opposition for the campaign and the elections that will be held next year, and the citizens of RS will have the opportunity to evaluate the work and positions of the opposition”, Bajic emphasised.
This complicated situation, as it seems now, can lead to two scenarios. One is that the opposition will continue with the rebellion and gather support of citizens to demand extraordinary elections. The second possibility is that this early campaign will result with a more divided electoral body in RS at the next general elections.
In the end, whatever parties do or don’t do in the following period, one thing is certain, that RS can expect a hot political autumn./IBNA
Photo: Borenovic with other opposition leaders at the press conference