Political report - September 2000


If you remember, at the beginning of this year there was a fact mentioned in POO newsletter that the year 2000 could be a turning-point for the ex-Yugoslavia political situation. The fact that there are elections going on in each of the former Yugoslavia republics, says enough. Also, there is a high degree of discontent with the nationalistic power in the post-war, economically and socially ruined society. It is almost a degree of unbearability, if it could be said in public (depending on a case, of course).

We cannot read the future - we do not really have to - the situation is simple enough. Fortunately, nationalistic concepts are being defeated more and more often. It is moving slowly but still nationalist societies are making more space for civil society.

SDA PosterOf course the government is changing but the theory on "rotation of shit", stated in one pre-election meeting in Croatia in December 1999 in Zagreb Faculty of Philosophy, can find its justification in local reality. The differences are very small - does the new shit "stink" less and does it leave more space for the liberal political activists from ex-Yugoslav countries. This description of the situation might seem a little bit harsh or too vulgar... Even if someone thinks that way - the political reality will be enough to prove him wrong. Reality that "stinks".

That is enough for the introduction - the main news is: the OSCE Mission to Bosnia and Herzegovina announced the official beginning of the pre-election campaign for the November elections. At the local elections, in April this year, the OSCE appealed to people to "vote for changes". Was it because of their motto, unhappiness of local voters or something third, I do not know, but still the nationalist parties got much less votes than in the previous elections. Although not exclusively. Everyone hopes that the November elections for the Parliament, under a motto "Let's Outvote the Corruption", can make even greater change in favour of the civil political parties. This refers to SDP BiH especially, the favorites of the International Community. The party led by a controversial Zlatko Lagumdzija. Popularity of him and his party is growing respectively with the news on the negative sides of their politics. Is SDP really the best solution for BiH or it is just one more to come in the process of the rotation... Of course, instead of answering this question, I suppose that the most of the BH voters will vote according to a principle "vote YES and than vote NO if YES turns out to be bad". But there is nothing strange about this because this is how the election process has been functioning for years.

We cannot ignore the fact that, once the largest party, SDA is loosing more and more popularity and is becoming a political outsider. That is not strange if we keep in mind the desasterous politics they led for the past ten years. As they said themselves in the last campaign - they gave the worst ten years to their people. And the people learns sometime... At least I hope so...

It is interesting that the status of HDZ party is not so firm any more... Jadranko Prlic, the "pro-Westerner" left the party after the public correspondence with Ante Jelavic. It is unknown how many of the hard-core HDZ voters will remain loyal to their last election choice.

It is also difficult to predict the election results in Republika Srpska. The best proof for this can be seen through the spring election success of SDS. Has Milorad Dodik, now ex first man of the RS government, as one of the candidates for the President of RS, enough political (and other) power to win his opponents. Regardless of the result, the "rotation" wil be complete. No doubt about it. Especially if we keep in mind Dodik's political and moral references.
Ending this part with a dose of pre-election speculations and thoughts, we announce further follow-up of the pre-, post-, and general election situation in BiH.


Another step in the past. The assassination of Jozo Leutar took place in Sarajevo, on March 16, 1999. The deputy minister of the Federal police department died a few days after the car-bomb expolosion. Everyone rushed to accuse "the others" for the assassination. Croats were accusing the Bosniaks and the other way around. Numerous world criminal services were involved in the investigation, and the International Community officials promised a quick revelation of those who ordered and performed the assassination. And then there was silence, disturbed from time to time by a new promise of those internationalists - "assassins will be known soon and put behind bars". The cooperation between Croat and political officials was quickly renewed, as it usually happens, and as it is usually renewed or broken *depending on the current political interests and situations).

Still, the "soon" has recently come true. SFOR arrested several Bosnian Croats during September. Some of them were arrested because they are wanted in the Hague. And some were arrested because they were, what a surprise, connected to the Leutar assassination. And the most important one among them is Ivan Andabak - a new kind of a drug dealer by profession.

According to those who are familiar with the situation, Leutar payed the price with his life because he had confronted Andabak and the goup of his people - a small number of them, that were also arrested in September. This group of people was close to the local HDZ and the Croat nationalist idea. Of course, their think-alikes stated that the whole action was performed before the November elections with a purpose to cause damage to a "certain" side. The court investigation will prove if that was really the case. Un officially, Andabak was arrested in Croatia for smuggling 660 kg of cocain. Also unofficially, Leutar lost his life because he tried to confront the criminals from "his own people".

If the process against Leutar's assassins ends successfully, it will be a precedant in the post-war Bosnian judicial system. Of course, like in the case of the election results, the following months will show how determent and capable our law institutions are in the attempt to bring justice to the surface. I hope that in the favor of this goes the fact that there is a charge of murder against Ismet Bajramovic Celo, who has been in prison for several months. And his name is a synonim for organized mafia and criminal in BiH.

If Republika Srpska was a state and not an entity, it would probably be mentioned in a book like "Guinness Records"... And here is why. To remind you, RS does not have a president since last March, after the International Community fired Nikola Poplasen. The agreement on a new president was never made. Which is not so surprising... Because, when the whole country is functioning only in fiction and outside of the institutions, the lack of a president, even an entity president, plays no important role.

Still in September, the RS Parliament decided not to stop there. There was a nonconfidence voted in the government of Milorad Dodik. And there is no new government. Summary in this case - there is an entity, but no president, there is an entity, but no government. But even that is not disturbing in todays BiH. That same government of RS has not be legal for months - according to the election results a year ago the entity president was supposed to elect the new mandator for the RS government. And RS does not have a president... And so on... While he was a president, Nikola Poplasen suggested three mandators for the new government. Not one of them was appropriate. In the meantime, the "old one" - Dodik, has become a central power figure in RS. "It is not important that the entity does not have a president - it has me" Dodik would say. And the International Community supports him. Because, publicly Dodik is all for multi... and prosperity. Even though the foreigners themselves know that ther is no difference betweenhim and nationalistic parties of RS (except in the package). And Dodik's "package" is much easier for the West to swallow.

They say that Milosevic is standing behind Dodik's replacement... Maybe, but... Still it is evident that there is much more fighting for the power within the entity. This is a very important game before the up-coming elections. Healthy political analysts would say that Dodik's replacement was necessary because of his terrible politics (terrible for RS and the citizens while very correct and good for Dodik and those around him). But the voice of the "healthy plitical analysts" is the least relevant here. What is relevant is the political interest. It is interesting that the RS parliament replaced Dodik's government and after that asked them to remain in the function until the new elections. Dodik refused this and it appears to be logical. Since he is hoping to win the RS presidential elections in November.

After all this, it seems there will be no new RS government until the November elections. And the OHR was not too much concerned about this. They probably got used to this as well...

One of three thirds of the Presiding body of BiH, Alija Izetbegovic, if we were to believe those who know more information, could have gotten a title "ex" not long ago. But not because of a replacement or differences within his party, but because of his health condition... During the Millenium Summit in New York, Izetbegovic was hospitalized for pneumonia. And more problems with his bad health condition which has been a public secret for a long time. The only question is whether or not Izetbegovic is ready to admit to the public and to himself that it is time to retire. And his retirement has been announced a long time ago.

Let us remind you... Izetbegovic announced that he was leaving the presidency in October, including the leaving of the whole political scene. Of course, one never knows with Alija. Does a last time mean one more... As it was the case before. Still it seems that Alija Izetbegovic really could retire, due to his bad conditin and bad position of his party SDA. Retirement into history - the history of bad politics for the past ten years in Bosnia and Herzegovina. He would gladly leave, especially if he could put someone dear to his position. Someone so dear that has to wear the unpopular name of Edhem Bicakcic. Everything is open for speculations...

The October retirement seems very sure, more than ever before. Actually, the option "once more and once more after that" would endanger his current political reputation even more. Sometimes it is just better to step down. We are hoping that he understands that. It is time.