Berserkistan Navigator Karadzic Names New Prime Minister
To Replace Moderate Kasagic

Prime Minister Rajko KasagicPALE, Bosnia, May 18 (Reuters) — Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic appointed a new hardline prime minister to shore up his nationalist government on Saturday after sacking Rajko Kasagic as premier for supporting the Bosnian peace process. Karadzic's Serb Democratic Party (SDS) named former deputy health minister Gojko Klickovic to head the government during an emergency overnight session of the Bosnian Serb parliament.

Parliament president Momcilo Krajisnik told reporters that 56 out of 80 deputies attended the parliament and that only one voted against. The Yugoslav news agency Tanjug reported there would be no changes in the government which Kasagic had planned to reshuffle to weed out hardliners. Klickovic's appointment threatened fresh confrontation between the Bosnian Serb hardliners and the international community which publicly supported Kasagic when he was dismissed on Wednesday.

He told reporters after a first meeting with the International High Representative Carl Bildt that he supported the Bosnia peace agreement but did not elaborate. Bildt, who looked grim, had little to say before returning to his office in nearby Sarajevo.

Former U.S. mediator Richard Holbrooke, who negotiated the Bosnian peace agreement, told CNN that it could be wrecked if Karadzic was allowed to get rid of the moderate Kasagic. "This is the test," he added.

Bildt and NATO political and military chiefs went to Kasagic's power base in the north Bosnian town of Banja Luka this week to show support and say they would continue to work with him. But Kasagic, who was unavailable for comment on Saturday, said he would comply with his replacement by parliament.

Bildt complained earlier the dismissal of Kasagic was a coup against the peace process by Karadzic who is fighting extradition for trial by the U.N. war crimes tribunal. Peacemakers refuse to deal with Bosnian Serb "president" who was supposed to be driven from power under the peace agreement. They particularly fear that he and his hardliners will wreck crucial postwar elections due in September to provide Bosnia with democratic inter-ethnic institutions.

Efforts to extradite him to the U.N. court in The Hague have been fruitless so far. NATO peacekeepers have refused to arrest him. Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic, the chief power broker in Serb politics, has been deaf to the West's pressure to surrender him despite U.S. threats to reimpose sanctions on rump Yugoslavia. German Foreign Minister Klaus Kinkel said in a German newspaper interview to be published on Sunday that he asked the U.N. court to issue international arrest warrants for Karadzic and his army commander Ratko Mladic who is also wanted.

Klickovic, a 44-year-old sociologist, has recently been involved in the resettlement of Serb refugees who lost their homes during the war and the exodus from Sarajevo earlier this year. He was formerly mayor of the northwestern town Bosanska Krupa which was captured by a Muslim-Croat offensive last year. The dismissal of Kasagic thrust into the open a rift between the hardliners gathered round Karadzic in Pale and Kasagic's moderates in Banja Luka.

Krajisnik's claim that the hardliners could command 55 votes in parliament contrasted with strong speculation that they could no longer muster a majority.

Additional resources
Berserkistan, May 17 · Ousted Kasagic Still Controls Bosnian Serb Government
Berserkistan, May 17 · Death Threats to Media Supporting Rajko Kasagic
Berserkistan, May 16 · Bosnian Serb Prime Minister Rajko Kasagic Rejects His Dismissal
Berserkistan May 15 · Radovan Karadzic Dismisses Prime Minister Kasagic
Berserkistan May 10 · Bildt Wins Commitment from Moderate Serbs in Banja Luka

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