OHR in warning over RS independence referendum

img13The Office of the High Representative (OHR) in Bosnia says a referendum on independence of the Republic of Srpska (RS) would violate the Dayton agreement.

The 1992-95 war in Bosnia-Herzegovina ended with the peace deal, and organized the country into two entities: the Serb RS, and the Muslim-Croat Federation.

“The planned referendum proposed by the SNSD-led RS Government to question elements of the General Framework Agreement for Peace (GFAP, also known as the Dayton Peace Agreement) falls outside the scope of the entity’s constitutional competencies, is contrary to its obligations under the constitution of Bosnia and Herzegovina, and, as the high representative has already made clear, is a violation of the GFAP,” warned a statement issued by the OHR in Sarajevo.

RS Prime Minister Milorad Dodik said on Wednesday that a referendum on whether the entity should remain within Bosnia-Herzegovina or separate “will certainly be held one day”.

“By organizing a referendum on these issues, the SNSD is manipulating RS voters to divert attention from the real economic problems facing citizens,” said the OHR statement, and added that “such actions are in defiance of the rule of law and endanger the reputation” of the Republic of Srpska.

During his last visit to Banja Luka Inzko was clear, the press release continued, that “rejection of the most basic principles of the Dayton Peace Agreement as well as standards of international law, means the SNSD is setting the RS on the dangerous path of legal uncertainty.”

“Conclusions and public statements that negate the constitutional order of the country and the legal framework regulating BiH [Bosnia-Herzegovina] judicial institutions, question cooperation with the ICTY [Hague Tribunal], and deny facts about war crimes proven beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law, all fly in the face of the rule of law,” said the OHR.

“The Steering Board of the Peace Implementation Council has repeatedly underlined that the international community retains the necessary instruments to counter destructive tendencies,” said the statement, adding that the council will not allow attempts to undermine the Dayton agreement.

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