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Bosnian Serb Parliament Moves To Reject Powers Of High Representative

The Serbian member of the Presidency of Bosnia-Herzegovina, Milorad Dodik (center, turned), attends the National Assembly of Republika Srpska session on November 11.

The parliament of Bosnia's ethnic Serb entity, Republika Srpska, has approved nonbinding resolutions rejecting the so-called "Bonn Powers" of the international community's top civilian official in Bosnia-Herzegovina and calling for a referendum on Bosnia's NATO accession.

The measures, adopted early on November 12, were part of a package of some 20 so-called "conclusions" voted on by Bosnian Serb lawmakers after a marathon 15-hour session.

The conclusions were proposed by the ruling majority led by the Union of Independent Social Democrats (SNSD), headed by Milorad Dodik, the Serbian member of Bosnia's tripartite presidency.

The Bonn Powers give the high representative for Bosnia-Herzegovina -- whose office was created in 1995 after the signing of the Dayton peace agreement that ended the 1992-95 Bosnian war -- authority to dismiss politicians, push through laws, and veto others.

The high representative, currently Austrian diplomat Valentin Inzko, oversees the civilian implementation of the Dayton agreement.

The high representative's Bonn Powers have come under criticism from Bosnian Serbs for not offering the possibility of appealing his decisions, which have immediate effect. The Office of the High Representative has dismissed scores of officials, including judges, civil servants, and members of parliament since its inception.

Although not legally binding, the resolutions adopted by the Bosnian Serb lawmakers are indicative of the position of the Bosnian Serb parliamentary majority.

Besides the rejection of the Bonn Powers, other conclusions included reaffirming that Republika Srpska has the sole authority to decide on its future status.

Almost 25 years after the end of the Bosnian war, which resulted in about 100,000 people being killed, the country remains ethnically divided between majority Bosniak Muslims, Serbs, and Croats. Disagreements over relations with NATO have prevented the formation of a new government a year after a general election.

The formation of a Bosnian government has stalled mainly because the pro-Russian Dodik has rejected closer ties with NATO.