Berserkistan Navigator Bosnian Serbs in Crisis
Over Serb Decree to
Remove Karadzic

Area around Pale is cleared of reporters as Karadzic
and Bosnian Serb leadership ponder their response.

By Dan De Luce

Radovan Karadzic PALE, Bosnia, June 26 (Reuters) - Bosnian Serb deputies held crisis talks in their Pale mountain stronghold overnight after their patrons in Serbia ordered the immediate removal of nationalist leader Radovan Karadzic. The deputies debated how to react to the order from Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic, the man who backed their cause when war errupted in Bosnia four years ago.

The Bosnian Serb assembly meeting ended in the early hours of Wednesday but it was not clear if the deputies reached any decision about the political fate of Karadzic, political sources in Pale said. Karadzic was at the meeting, the sources said.

The deputies were expected to meet again later on Wednesday but there was no official confirmation. The Yugoslav state news agency Tanjug reported Milosevic and his federal Yugoslav and Montenegrin counterparts had given an ultimatum to sack Karadzic to Bosnian Serb deputies at a meeting in Belgrade on Monday.

Tanjug quoted an official statement criticising the Bosnian Serbs for failing to live up to their obligations under the Dayton accord and warning of unspecified reprisals if they failed to comply. Serb hardliners in Karadzic's government, whose fate is closely linked to their leader, were clearly angered by Belgrade's order which echoed previous Western demands.

All foreign and local Serb reporters in Pale were ordered out of the vicinity of the assembly meeting when deputies and government ministers began discussing Milosevic's demands around 5 p.m. (1500 GMT). Bosnian Serb police set up a checkpoint at the main intersection in the stronghold near Sarajevo to enforce the order.

The assembly's response was likely to provide a key test of Milosevic's authority with the Bosnian Serbs more than six monhts after the signing of the Bosnian peace treaty in Dayton, Ohio. Karadzic and other hardliners are fighting for their political survival, keenly aware they have plenty of Serb enemies who disagree with their war-time leadership.

Karadzic's departure could expose other powerful figures in his circle to the threat of possible indictment by the U.N. war crimes tribunal, which has charged Karadzic with crimes against humanity.

Milosevic's ultimatum came after months of lobbying by the U.S. and European officials who believe Karadzic's continued presence in office is a threat to the Bosnian peace process and to the post-war elections due on September 14. Indicted twice by the U.N. war crimes tribunal in The Hague, Karadzic is banned from holding public office under the Dayton accord.

Bosnian Serb politicians cannot take Belgrade's implied threats of renewed sanctions lightly. Their war-ravaged territory, packed with impoverished refugees, is heavily reliant on Serbia for economic ay Milosevic.

To learn more...
Berserkistan, June 25 · Colleagues Say that Karadzic Will Quit
Berserkistan, June 25 · Kornblum on Mission to Remove Radovan Karadzic

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