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Bosnia: Serb Parliamentary Elections Set For October

Belgrade, 7 August 1997 (RFE/RL) - Bosnian Serb president Biljana Plavsic, locked in a power struggle with allies of indicted war crimes suspect Radovan Karadzic, has set parliamentary elections for October 10-12. Our correspondent says Plavsic told supporters at a rally today in western Bosnia that the new parliamentary elections in the Bosnian Serb entity would be the best way to resolve the political rift.

Plavsic, who dissolved the parliament dominated by Karadzic's supporters early last month, had originally set new polls for September 1. But the date was postponed to allow more time for preparations.

Karadzic, who is believed to be hiding in his mountain stronghold of Pale, still dominates the Bosnian Serb entity although he is barred from formal power because he is wanted by the U.N. war crimes tribunal in The Hague as a war crimes suspect.

Plavsic has accused Karadzic and some of his closest aides of rampant corruption and smuggling that has amassed them enormous wealth, while most Bosnian Serbs live on the verge of poverty.

German Foreign Minister Klaus Kinkel is accusing Karadzic of trying to seek what Kinkel terms a la carte justice by offering to stand trial in the Serb-run half of Bosnia for war crimes.

In an interview with this week's magazine issue of the German daily "Sueddeutsche Zeitung," Karadzic said any trial against him could be under supervision of the UN's war crimes tribunal in The Hague, which has indicted him for genocide and crimes against humanity.

But in a statement today, Kinkel dismissed the idea, saying Karadzic has a strange concept of justice. Kinkel said the UN tribunal took precedence over national courts, adding that suspected war criminals do not have the possibility of seeking out courts that they think are suitable.

Under the Dayton accords which ended the Bosnian war, indicted war crime suspects must be handed over for trial in The Hague. But U.S. and European officials complain of poor compliance by the former warring factions.

Meanwhile, U.S. special envoy Richard Holbrooke arrived in Sarajevo today for more talks aimed at boosting Bosnia's faltering peace process.

Holbrooke met this afternoon in the Lukavica suburb of Sarajevo with members of Bosnia's three-man presidency and council of ministers. It was the first time in three weeks that the Serb member of the presidency, Momcilo Krajisnik, had attended.

Earlier today, Holbrooke met in the northern town of Tuzla with U.S. General John Shalikashvili, chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, and U.S. General Wesley Clark, NATO's supreme military commander. Details of those talks were not revealed, but were expected to focus on the failure of Bosnia's ethnic parties to hand over suspected war criminals.

Holbrooke, the architect of the Dayton peace accords that ended the Bosnian war, had been due to go to Banja Luka today to meet embattled Bosnian Serb President Plavsic. But Plavsic's spokeswoman said he decided to put off the trip until tomorrow because of bad flying weather. Holbrooke began his current mission by meeting the Croatian and Bosnian-Muslim Presidents in the Croatian port of Split yesterday.