Alexa

Rajko Kuzmanovic sworn in as new Bosnian Serb president

Rajko Kuzmanovic sworn in as new Bosnian Serb president

Newly elected Bosnian Serb President Rajko Kuzmanovic took an oath of office Friday, and pledged to work toward preventing further unification of Bosnia's two ethnic ministates.
Kuzmanovic, 76, told the Bosnian Serb Parliament during the swearing-in ceremony in Banja Luka that he and his party would "reject all requests for a radical constitutional and territorial rearrangement of Bosnia-Herzegovina ... specially requests for the dismantling or rearrangement of Republika Srpska and its essential authority."
The peace agreement that ended Bosnia's 1992-95 war divided the country into two ministates _ Republika Srpska and the Bosniak-Croat Federation _ each largely autonomous, with their own president, parliament, police and army.
The two are linked by a central government, a parliament and a three-member presidency. And since 1995 most ethnically divided government institutions have merged and been put under the control of the Bosnia-Herzegovina central government. The army, also now unified, includes Serbs, Muslim Bosniaks and Croats.
Bosnian Serbs reluctantly allowed the transfer of authority from the ministate to the central government, and for years had held out against giving up their separate police force, fearing it might lead to the loss of their separate territory within the country.
The ministate's leaders agreed last month to a compromise deal, which foresees an eventual merger of police to stave off bigger reforms, and to allow the country to push on toward European Union membership.
But Kuzmanovic said he and the Union of Independent Socialist Democrats, or SNSD, would work against any further merging of the ministates.
"Further transfer of authority will have to stop, and there is a serious need for some of the so far transferred authority to be returned" to Republika Srpska, Kuzmanovic said.
Kuzmanovic won the December presidential election, held early after President Milan Jelic died three months ago.
The office is largely ceremonial, though the president has the power to remove the prime minister with support from a parliamentary majority.
Most power in the Bosnian Serb ministate, however, lies with Prime Minister Milorad Dodik, the leader of the SNSD, the Bosnian Serbs' most powerful party.
The party holds all key posts in the Bosnian Serb ministate, as well as many positions in the state government.