Bosnian SDP Names New Ministers to Fill Vacancies

Zlatko Lagumdzija, leader of the Social Democratic Party, has proposed two new ministers and a deputy after the SDP expelled its former coalition partner from government.SDP head Zlatko Lagumdzija on November 7 asked Vjekoslav Bevanda, Chairman of the Council of Ministers [Bosnia’s Prime Minister], to appoint new security and defence ministers and a deputy finance minister to the state government.

The move comes after the SDP succeeded in expelling ministers from the Party of Democratic Action, SDA, from their posts.

Fahrudin Radoncic is proposed as new Security Minister, Zekerijah Osmic as Defence Minister and Edita Djapo as Deputy Finance Minister.

The changes come after the SDP fell out with the SDA in May in a row over the budget. The SDP has since formed a coalition with the Alliance for a Better Future, SBB.

Radoncic, head of the SBB, remains a controversial choice. A high-profile businessman, he has been accused of links to an alleged Balkan drug boss, Naser Kelmendi.

Radoncic is also former owner of Bosnia’s most read daily, Dnevni avaz, which now belongs to his ex-wife.

Bosnia’s Center for Investigative Journalism, CIN, in 2009 named Radoncic as the main business associate of Kelmendi’s.

According to CIN, Kelmendi, born in Kosovo, but with Bosnian citizenship, and his three sons, along with his brother, Becir, runs several businesses in Bosnia, Montenegro, Serbia and Kosovo, including hotels and a trucking company.

He is suspected of leading one of the biggest crime rings in the Balkans and of trafficking drugs to Europe and is currently on the run from an Interpol arrest warrant.

CIN said his business ties to Radoncic were conducted throughout Radoncic’s publishing company, Avaz, with which he exchanged real estate in Zenica and Sarajevo, while Avaz bought an armoured vehicle from Kelmendi.

A 2008 report by the Bosnian State Investigative and Protection Agency, SIPA, which CIN used in its research, also described Kelmendi as head of one of the best organized criminal organizations in the region.

The formation of the new governing coalition at state level in Bosnia follows a deal reached between Lagumdzija and the President of the Republika Srpska, Milorad Dodik, who is also leader of the Alliance of Independent Social Democrats. The Republika Srpska is one of Bosnia’s two autonomous entities.

Another SDP official, Sasa Magazinovic, on Wednesday said that the full reconstruction of the Council of Ministers will be completed in the next 20 days or so.

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