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Balkan Report: December 10, 1997

10 December 1997, Volume 1, Number 20

Karadzic Party Rejects Bosnian Serb Election Results. Spokesmen for the Organization on Security and Cooperation in Europe, which oversaw the November 22-23 Bosnian Serb legislative elections, said in Sarajevo on December 7 that the hard-line Serbian Democratic Party (SDS) won 24 out of 83 seats, down from the 45 it held previously. The Serbian Radical Party (SRS), the SDS's main ally, raised its share from six seats to 15, but the SRS and the SDS have lost their joint legislative majority.

Republika Srpska President Biljana Plavsic's newly formed Serbian People's League (SNS) will have 15 seats in parliament, and a small party allied to the SNS will have two. Muslim and Croatian parties captured 18 mandates. Speculation centers on Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic's Socialists, who hold nine seats and could hold the balance of power in the new legislature (see "RFE/RL Bosnia Report, December 3, 1997).

Karadzic's main spokesman, Momcilo Krajisnik, for his part declared: "We are shocked by the announced results. There has been an obvious theft. The assembly cannot convene based on rigged election results." He then demanded that the results be invalidated.

It remains to be seen what Krajisnik will do. One likely possibility is that the Republika Srpska could emerge with two rival governments, one based in Pale and the other in Banja Luka. Some observers might argue that such has indeed been the case, anyway, since the split first emerged during the summer.

Britain Tells Bosnians to Shape Up. Pale and Banja Luka planned, in fact, to send separate delegations to the December 9-10 international conference in Bonn on the implementation of the Dayton agreement. On the eve of the gathering, British Foreign Secretary Robin Cook published a blunt warning to all Bosnian leaders in "The Times." He wrote that "the efforts of the international community cannot make up for the inactivity of Bosnia's leaders... My main hope for Bonn is that it will issue a wake-up call for Bosnia's leaders... They must now live up their responsibility to lead the Bosnian people into the real world."

Some Unhappy with New Powers for Westendorp. But some diplomats have suggested that it might be necessary to expand the mandate of Carlos Westendorp, the international community's chief representative in Bosnia, so that he can take some painful decisions that the Bosnian leaders cannot or will not make themselves. Such decisions include the setting up of common institutions and establishing joint documents and symbols.

The hard-line Serbs in Pale, however, reject any new powers for the former Spanish foreign minister, an RFE/RL correspondent reported on 8 December. That same day, Bosnian Croatian leader Kresimir Zubak expressed the same sentiments but went into more detail. Zubak told RFE/RL in an exclusive interview that any change in Westendorp's mandate would constitute a revision of the Dayton agreement and hence is a non-starter. Zubak added that the Croats are suspicious of any decisions the Spanish diplomat might make that could lead to the strengthening of Bosnia as a unitary state.