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Disabled Bosnians Demand Government Ratify Rights Convention

SARAJEVO (Reuters) - Dozens of disabled Bosnians today vowed not to leave the parliament building in Sarajevo until Bosnia ratified the UN Convention on the rights of disabled people.

Over 70 people, many in wheelchairs, set up camp in one of the building's assembly halls on December 3, the International Day of Disabled People.

"We intend to stay here until the parliament meets our demands," said Zijad Arapcic, the head of Bosnia's 75,000-strong invalids' association, many of them victims of the 1992-95 war.

A main complaint is low and inconsistent support payments from the state.

Bosnia comprises a Muslim-Croat federation and the Serb Republic, each with its own welfare legislation.

Disabled people receive 403 Bosnian marka ($310) a month in the Muslim-Croat federation but 41 marka in the Serb Republic, Arapcic said, adding that the Muslim-Croat federation was in arrears on payments of 150 million marka dating back to 2006.

"We want a state-level law on disabled persons, and an end to discrimination between war invalids, civilian war victims, and individuals with hereditary disability," Arapcic said.

Parliamentary deputies said the UN convention could not be addressed before December 7 at earliest.

Bosnian Prime Minister Nikola Spiric said the central cabinet had agreed to ratify the convention last June, but that his minister for human rights and refugees had failed to pass it on to parliament. Spiric said he had asked parliament to dismiss the minister, Safet Halilovic.