Bosnian Serb leader Milorad Dodik says the ethnic Serb entity will pull out of the Western Balkan nation’s joint military, top judiciary body, and tax administration -- a move the Croat member of the country’s presidency called a "criminal act of rebellion."
Dodik, the Serb member of Bosnia-Herzegovina's tripartite presidency, on October 8 said that "the agreement we have given for the defense law, the High Judicial and Prosecutorial Council, and the Indirect Taxation Authority will be withdrawn."
“We will withdraw consent for the [joint] army" in a vote in the Serb-run Republika Srpska parliament, he said.
A decision could come "in the next few days" and the army of the Republika Srpska could be set up "within a few months," he told reporters in Banja Luka, the Serb entity’s main city.
It remains unclear what opposition the hard-line nationalist's plan would face among fellow ethnic-Serb leaders in the entity.
However, the comments are sure to heighten tensions in the region after the boycott of the Balkan country's main political institutions by the Serbs.
The Bosnian Serb entity, called Republika Srpska, and the Bosniak-Croat one, were formed after the Balkan nation’s war in 1995.
Bosnia is still governed under the 25-year-old Dayton Peace Agreements that helped end ethnic violence following the breakup of Yugoslavia, including a high representative's post with its power to impose decisions or dismiss officials.
Bosnia's tripartite presidency has three members -- representing Orthodox Serbs, Catholic Croats, and Bosnian Muslims -- and is the commander of the country's armed forces.
Zeljko Komsic, the Croat member of the presidency, assailed Dodik's remarks, calling them “a criminal act of rebellion."
Dodik has in the past called for secession of Bosnian Serb lands from the rest of Bosnia, which he labeled an "experiment by the international community" and an "impossible, imposed country."
However, he has occasionally backed off calls for secession. A year ago, he said Bosnian Serbs are ready to preserve the integrity of Bosnia-Herzegovina as a state, but only if they get ''more autonomy.''
Dodik on October 8 said several expert groups have been working on drafting the Serb entity’s new constitution and laws on defense, judiciary, and finances.
In July, Bosnian Serb political representatives announced a boycott of all major institutions in Bosnia-Herzegovina over a decision by the outgoing UN high repreesentative for Bosnia to ban genocide denial related to the 1995 Srebrenica massacre in which some 8,000 Muslim men and boys were slaughtered by Bosnian Serb forces.
Earlier this month, several thousand people demonstrated in the Serb-dominated part of Bosnia against government corruption and curbs on media freedom.
Led by opposition parties, protesters on October 2 accused Dodik's ruling party of criminal behavior, cronyism, and corruption.
They also demanded the sacking of the health minister and hospital managers in the entity over alleged corruption in the procurement of supplies to fight the COVID-19 pandemic, including oxygen used for ventilators.
Dodik was sanctioned by the United States in 2016 for actively obstructing efforts to implement the 1995 Dayton Accords.
With reporting by Reuters, DW, and RFE/RL’s Balkan Service