Berserkistan Navigator Holbrooke Forces Karadzic
to Resign as Party Chief

‘I want to make clear we are not satisfied with
what we were given. It falls short of our goals’

—Richard Holbrooke, US Envoy

By Dan De Luce

Radovan BELGRADE, July 19 (Reuters) - U.S. mediator Richard Holbrooke forced Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic from power on Friday but failed to secure his arrest for trial by the U.N. war crimes tribunal.

Karadzic's agreement to quit ended a six-month diplomatic struggle to oust him from public life and cleared the way for inter-ethnic elections in Bosnia in September.

Holbrooke announced after "acrimonous" negotiations with Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic and Bosnian Serb envoys that Karadzic had delivered his immediate resignation as Bosnian Serb president and head of the ruling Serb Democratic Party. The development was welcomed by major powers. The U.S. State Department called it a "step forward" but said Karadzic should still face trial for war crimes. France said his rightful place -- and that of his army commander Ratko Mladic -- was before an international war crimes tribunal.

The people of Sarajevo, who were besieged by Serb guns during the war, treated the news with some scepticism, saying Karadzic's influence would fade only if he were tried.

Ejup Ganic, vice president of the mostly Muslim Bosnian central government, praised Holbrooke but said Karadzic would keep pulling strings behind the scenes unless arrested by NATO peace troops and despatched to The Hague to face trial for Serb wartime massacres of Muslim civilians. The Muslim-led Bosnian government had threatened to boycott elections -- a cornerstone of the peace process -- if the Bosnian Serb wartime leader remained in office during the poll.

Holbrooke said the deal was important because it increased the chances for successful elections but he was frustrated by Milosevic's refusal to extradite Karadzic and Mladic to the U.N. court in The Hague. "I want to make clear we are not satisfied with what we were given. It falls short of our goals," he told reporters. "Indicted war criminals should be at The Hague to face trial under due process of law, and that includes Dr Karadzic and Mr Mladic. But this is a long and very bumpy road."

The U.S. government recalled Holbrooke, architect of the Bosnian peace agreement last year, from his resumed career in Wall Street banking to break the stalemate over Karadzic. The deal was struck during 10 hours of talks in Belgrade which ended when a resignation document bearing Milosevic's signature was faxed to Karadzic for him to add his own. He signed in the wartime Bosnian Serb stronghold of Pale with Milosevic's feared security chief Jovica Stanisic at his elbow.

Karadzic, who led Bosnian Serbs to war against Bosnia's independence from Yugoslavia in 1992, undertook to immediately relinquish his titles of office and all power and promised a complete withdrawal from public life.

Holbrooke told reporters any attempt by the Serbs to cheat on the agreement would result in "consequences." These were not spelled out but the U.S. is holding the threat of renewed U.N. sanctions as a weapon in reserve. It was not known whether Milosevic obtained any diplomatic or economic concessions in return for his part in ending the Karadzic saga which has absorbed the energies of mediators to the exclusion of more urgent tasks.

Biljana Biljana Plavsic, a Karadzic deputy to whom he earlier ceded "executive power" was confirmed as acting president. Foreign Minister Aleksa Buha took over as head of the SDS.

It remained to be seen whether Karadzic would melt into the shadows or continue to wield backstage influence. Diplomats said the hardline stance of the SDS, which is opposed to the Bosnian reintegration would not, in any case, change under the leadership of Plavsic, Buha and parliament speaker Momcilo Krajisnik.

U.S. diplomat Robert Frowick, in charge of organising the September 14 elections, lifted a threatened ban on SDS participation after Karadzic stepped down. But he warned he could change his mind if there was any sign of backsliding by the Serbs or of backdoor influence from Karadzic.

To learn more...
Berserkistan, July 19 · Karadzic Ouster is Partial Victory for Holbrooke
Berserkistan, July 19 · NATO and IFOR Partners Welcome Karadzic Resignation
Berserkistan, July 19 · SDS Party Will be Certified for Bosnian Election
Berserkistan, July 18 · Bosnian Serbs to Belgrade for Talks on Karadzic
Berserkistan, July 18 · Tough Talks between Milosevic and Holbrooke Last into Night
Berserkistan, July 18 · Holbrooke Ultimatum to Bosnian Serbs: Drop Karadzic


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