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Bosnia: Political Harassment Festers In Bosnian Election Campaign

Prague, 23 August 1996 (RFE/RL) -- Election-related bombings, attacks and various other forms of harassment have occurred in the past week across northern Bosnia on both sides of the inter-entity boundary.

In the Bosnian-Serb entity, the Banja-luka based Socialist Party of Republika Srpska (SSRS) has been the repeated target of harassment. Last weekend, someone threw a Molotov cocktail at the car of a prominent local Socialist politician, Dragoljub Trivanovic, in Bosanski Novi.

U.N authorities in Sarajevo report another prominent opposition Socialist activist, the manager of a distillery in Teslic, has been repeatedly detained by police, ordered dismissed from his job and the distillery blockaded.

The Socialists, allied with Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic, are taking a more moderate line than the ruling Serbian Democratic Party.

Socialist presidential candidate Zivko Radisic said on August 20 at a rally at Han Pijesak, the hideout of indicted war criminal General Ratko Mladic, that the "wise and reasonable should triumph in the coming elections because they alone can guide the country to peace."

In the Muslim-Croat federation, the far northwest area around Bihac appears to be most seriously affected by political violence. U.N. spokesman Alexander Ivanko said in Sarajevo several days ago that "half a dozen" attacks on opposition politicians have been registered in recent days in the Bihac area, including three in one day at Cazin, the scene of a violent attack in June against opposition presidential candidate Haris Silajdzic. Ivanko says local police are doing nothing to stop what he says is a "pattern" of intimidation.

A week ago, Bosnian security officials at the Izacic border crossing with Croatia just outside Bihac seized a shipment of leaflets and posters of the United List of Bosnia-Herzegovina The material was allegedly critical of Bosnian President Alija Izetbegovic's "Party for Democratic Action" (SDA).

The Bihac region, besieged during the entire war by Bosnian Serb and Krajina Serb forces, was the scene of heavy fighting during the last two years of the war between government forces and rebel troops led by businessman-turned-warlord Fikret Abdic. Several supporters of Abdic's Mostar-registered party, the Democratic People's Community (DNZ), say they have been threatened or attacked recently by SDA members in the Bihac area.

Abdic, a former member of Bosnia's collective presidency, now lives in exile in the Croatian port city of Rijeka. In a recent interview with the French news agency AFP, Abdic accused the SDA of waging what he terms an "unprecedented campaign of terror" against his supporters. He describes his old rival Izetbegovic as "the incarnation of military dictatorship" and accuses him of having sacrificed his people and betrayed Islam.

For his part, Izetbegovic a week ago dissociated himself from political violence. The Bihac-based governor of Una-Sana canton, Mirsad Veladzic, a leading SDA functionary, followed suit at a campaign rally last weekend, saying that disturbing the activities of other parties is not in the SDA's interest.

However, Bihac mayor Adnan Alagic, who is also active in the SDA, told the "New York Times" that SDA leaders perceive all opponents, including Muslims, to be enemies of the state and thus consider it the government's duty to investigate them.

"We know these opponents are garbage and enemies of the people... they are only agents of the international community, which wants to destroy us," he said.

Alagic says a strong SDA is a necessary for a unified Bosnia, adding that anyone who opposes this is a traitor.