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Bosnian Deputies Want Freeze On Politicians' Wages Until Government Formed

SARAJEVO -- A group of Bosnian parliament deputies has called for the suspension of salaries for those politicians taking part in talks to form a government following inconclusive general elections in October, RFE/RL's Balkan Service reports.

The deputies say their colleagues have behaved irresponsibly toward the citizens of Bosnia-Herzegovina, who are being hurt by the deputies' failure to form a government.

They say those involved in the talks must suffer financially because of this failure.

"It is obvious they are not interested in how pensioners and socially endangered categories like the disabled and others are surviving," said Josip Peric, a Bosnian Croat deputy in the parliament's upper house, the House of Peoples.

"Any blockage that threatens the payment of funds to these categories [of people] is unfair and immoral," he said.

Irreconcilable Differences

The Bosnian political scene is split into two blocs with seemingly irreconcilable positions.

On one side is the relative winner of the elections, the largely Muslim but multiethnic and nonnationalist Social Democrats; the country's largest Muslim party; and two smaller Bosnian-Croat parties. All four of the parties are from the Bosnian-Croat Federation.

The second bloc is made up of the two biggest parties from the Republika Srpska, the country's other highly autonomous region; and the biggest Bosnian Croat party, which is advocating the creation of a separate region within Bosnia for its Croats.

While the Republika Srpska has formed its government, the formations of the Bosnian and the federation governments are nowhere near resolution.

Bosnian legislators receive an average salary, including benefits, of 4,200 Bosnian markas ($2,900) per month while the average wage in Bosnia is about $600.

Sasa Magazinovic is a member of the Social Democrats, who say they are trying to break the nationalist mold that many think has blocked Bosnia's progress since the end of the 1992-95 Balkan wars.

He told RFE/RL he fully supported the idea of blocking the deputies' salaries until they form a government.

"I absolutely support this, not just myself but my party as well," he said. "It is in concord with our platform and we welcome this initiative."

The international community, which has supervised Bosnia's peace process and is still deeply engaged in the running of the country, has said Bosnian politicians need to show a greater level of responsibility if they are to be given the full reins to run the country, which aspires to join the European Union.

Vehid Sehic, a civic activist and former head of Bosnia's election commission, says politicians are displaying "social insensitivity."

"Most of the elected and appointed officials are exclusively looking out for their own interests, and they ignore the public interest," Sehic says.

"They are not objective or self-critical and show no interest in sharing the destiny of ordinary people. Unfortunately, they use all means available to secure material gain for themselves, even when they are not working."