Bosnian Serb Leader Throws the Referendum Ball in the Opposition’s Court

The president of Republika Srpska and the leader of ruling SNSD party said the entity will organize a referendum on the authority of Bosnian state-level judiciary if the opposition parties supported it. “If the opposition said they wanted a referendum on the (state) Court and Prosecutor, we will stick with the decision (of the entity parliament) and organize the referendum,” Milorad Dodik told reporters in Banja Luka.

The RS assembly’s 2015 decision to organize the judiciary referendum, passed by the SNSD-led coalition lawmakers, was published in the entity’s official gazette last week. The opposition parties pushed for the decision to be made official, effectively daring Dodik to a confrontation with the international community in Bosnia, which criticized the referendum effort. According to the law, the referendum is now set to be held in November. However, Dodik said that his party lawmakers will vote to put a pin in that if the Serb opposition parties don’t agree with it.

“We shouldn’t give up on (…) organizing the referendum some day. (…) Referendum needs to be an institution that we will further develop, so that we can decide on any issue important to the people, including the (state) Court and Prosecutor or the (independence) status (of Republika Srpska). But we shouldn’t be naive; such major issues require absolute political unity,” Dodik said.

The RS president also touched upon the Catalan independence referendum, saying it was different because the international community was “silent about the developments in Catalonia”, while in Bosnia it “kept” the country together.

In 2014, a Catalan independence movement distanced itself from Dodik, saying the Spanish province’s independence bid should not be seen as an example for Republika Srpska to follow.

“The National Catalan Assembly, the main popular Catalan movement promoting the independence of Catalonia, which is independent of any political party (…) would like to distance itself from (Dodik’s) opinions,” a press release on January 28, 2014 said.

“Catalonia aims to build a new and inclusive independent state, where there is a place for everyone regardless of their origin or nationality. (…) Our project is based on tolerance and respect for the rights of minorities, and on European integration. For these reasons we consider that Catalonia is in no way an example for the political projects advocated by Dodik and his party.”

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