Mon, Dec 20, 2004 - Page 6 News List

Bosnian foreign minister resigns over sanctions

AFP , Sarajevo

Bosnia's Foreign Minister Mladen Ivanic, a Serb, stepped down Saturday after international sanctions against the Bosnian Serbs for their lack of cooperation in solving war crimes, an official said.

"Foreign Minister Mladen Ivanic submitted his resignation to Prime Minister Adnan Terzic this morning," an aide to Terzic, Bojan Zec Filipovic, told reporters.

Ivanic's resignation came only a day after that of Bosnian Serb Prime Minister Dragan Mikerevic.

The International High Representative in Bosnia, Paddy Ashdown, and the US had on Thursday imposed new sanctions against the Bosnian Serbs over their lack of cooperation in bringing those indicted for war crimes to justice.

"I am not ready to accept threats and ultimatums [from the international community] ... which flagrantly violate the Constitution of the Republika Srpska and Bosnia," Mikerevic said Friday as he announced he was leaving office.

Meanwhile, Ivanic told journalists that another two members of his Party of Democratic Progress (PDP) who hold positions in the nine-strong central government will also resign -- in a sign that the government was coming apart at the seams.

"Other PDP members will also resign from their positions within the Council of Ministers [the central government]," Ivanic said after his party met in Banja Luka, referring to Transport Minister Branko Dokic and a deputy minister.

Ashdown, who has far-reaching powers in Bosnian affairs under the 1995 Dayton peace accords, sacked six Serb police officers and three officials on Thursday for allegedly protecting fugitive war criminals.

US Ambassador Douglas McElhaney also announced a unilateral visa ban on leaders of the nationalist Serbian Democratic Party in Bosnia's Serb-run entity and its junior partner in the Bosnian Serb government, the PDP.

He did not name those who would be affected, but they could include Ivanic, who heads the Party of Democratic Progress, and possibly also Mikerevic who is a senior party member.

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