Bosnian Serb leader Milorad Dodik has accused the United States of using its development agency to interfere in Bosnia-Herzegovina’s internal affairs and election process, a charge dismissed by the U.S. Embassy in Sarajevo.
"Once again, the assistance of the people of the United States is being used to support wild conspiracy theories in the interest of election campaigning in Bosnia," the embassy said in a statement on August 22.
Dodik plans to run for the Serbs' seat in Bosnia's tripartite presidency in the country’s elections later this year.
The U.S. Embassy also accused Dodik of trying to intimidate USAID partners as the diplomatic mission is still negotiating with Bosnia’s central government programs worth a total $8 million to help combat corruption.
Bosnia's Prime Minister Denis Zvizdic also dismissed Dodik's allegations and accused the Serb politician of making "provocative" statements as part of his election campaigning.
Dodik said on August 21 that USAID, the U.S. government agency that distributes aid to developing nations, was implementing its aid program through nongovernmental organizations instead of government and state institutions.
The president of Bosnia's predominantly Serb entity, Republika Srpska, alleged that USAID was granting funds "under cover of the alleged fight against crime and corruption."
Dodik also accused the central Bosnian government of conspiring with USAID in the matter and warned that NGOs in Republika Srpska that receive USAID funding would be investigated.
Dodik, an advocate of the Serb region's secession from Bosnia, has often accused the West of being biased against Serbs.
Bosnia is split into two entities: the ethnic Serb-dominated Republika Srpska and the Muslim-Croat Federation of Bosniaks and Croats. The two entities are linked by joint state-level institutions, including a tripartite presidency.