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Top Peace Envoy Acts Against Bosnian Serbs

Valentin Inzko (file photo)
BANJA LUKA, Bosnia (Reuters) -- Bosnia's top peace envoy has used his sweeping powers to annul a Bosnian Serb parliament resolution that obliges its institutions and officials to oppose any future transfer of power to the state.

"The High Representative (HR) made a detailed legal assessment and concluded the issued conclusions are mainly not in line with the Dayton agreement.... As a result, the HR decided to use his powers and put the conclusions out of force," Valentin Inzko said in a statement.

The Austrian diplomat supervises the peace process and is empowered to sack officials seen as obstructing the peace and impose laws. He is also the supreme authority on interpreting the constitution.

Under the Dayton accord that ended Bosnia's 1992-95 war, the country is made up of two autonomous regions, the Republika Srpska and the Muslim-Croat Federation with a weak central government whose workings are often hijacked by ethnic and regional rivalry.

Inzko's move came after a meeting with Bosnian Serb Prime Minister Milorad Dodik and parliament speaker Igor Radojicic. They declined to comment.

The Republika Srpska's parliament had turned a deaf ear to Inzko's call to withdraw its June resolution that included a list of powers, such as judiciary, customs and foreign-trade policy, and police deployment that Bosnian Serbs believe should belong to their region.

"Implementation of the conclusions would undermine the division of competencies between the state and the entities," Inzko said.

"They seek to give the Serb Republic national assembly veto rights in state-level matters, undermine final and binding decisions of the Constitutional Court, a Dayton institution, and determine that the HR's powers are unconstitutional," he added.

Bosnian Serbs led by Dodik have repeatedly urged Inzko to relinquish his authority as undemocratic and say a high representative is an outdated method of governing Bosnia.

They strongly oppose efforts to centralize power, while Muslims and Croats advocate a stronger central state.

Dodik was backed by the West as an opponent of wartime hard-liners but his nationalist rhetoric and threats of secession have often put him at odds with international officials since his return to power three years ago.

Inzko's took over the job in March from Miroslav Lajcak, who left to become Slovakia's foreign minister. Lajcak said he did not have enough support from the European Union for tougher moves against Dodik's separatist policies.

Inzko's decisions are final and binding.