On 9 February president Milorad Dodik of the Bosnia and Herzegovina’s (BiH) mainly Serb entity, Republika Srpska (RS), postponed the planned referendum that would question the authority of the state court. According to Dodik, the state court is biased against Serbs, especially in war crimes cases. Today’s session of the RS National Assembly should have set a date, but instead the president called the referendum off: “We will not go into the referendum without a consensus”, Dodik stated, referring to disagreements between Serb parties in RS. It is more likely, however, that pressure from Serbia and the international actors in BIH have led to this decision. Serbian President Nikolic and Prime Minister Vucic openly called on Dodik to shelve the idea. Possibly the referendum would have raised ethnic tensions in the whole country and it could destabilise the situation in the country.
A new initiative
A senior EU official said that this might be the end of Dodik’s political career and the move to stop the referendum could be something to draw away the attention of the worsening economic and social situation in Republika Srpska. Also it could be a part of Dodik’s preparations for local elections this year, as he announced at the same press conference a new initiative. This initiative is to “abolish the House of Peoples in the Republika Srpska National Assembly. This parliamentary chamber is playing an important role in the protection of the rights of non-Serb ethnic groups in the RS.
Because of the fact that the National Assembly of the Republika Srpska has already approved the referendum, it is unclear how things will end. It was already cleared by the Republika Srpska Constitutional Court too, but it was not yet approved for publishing in the Official Gazette, which is necessary to complete the legal process and making the decision to hold it binding. It is unclear as well what the consequences of this will be on the Serb-led entity. After the general elections in October 2014 it was already on the brink of collapse because of fighting parties for control over positions of power.