Bosnian Serbs And Croats Snub PM Nominee


Slavo Kukic, Bosnia’s Prime Ministerial nominee, has completed consultations with parliamentary parties, but without meeting the leaders of the strongest Serb and Croat parties, his candidacy appears doomed.

By Eldin Hadzovic

Slavo Kukic, a candidate for the Chairman of Bosnia’s Council of Ministers, ended his visit to Banja Luka, de facto capital of Bosnia’s predominantly Serb entity Republika Srpska, RS, without meeting officials of the strongest Serbian party, the Alliance of Independent Social Democrats, SNSD.

Kukic has been put forward for the job of Prime Minister by the multi-ethnic, but mainly Bosniak Social Democratic Party-led coalition, which also gathers the mainly Bosniak Party for Democratic Action, SDA, and two minor Croat parties, Croatian Party of Rights, HSP, and People’s Prosperity Through Work Party, NSRB.

The president of the Bosnian Serb assembly, and a member of the SNSD, Igor Radojicic, said meeting with Kukic would be “a waste of time”, as his party has refused to even talk to the candidate proposed by the SDP. It will only support a “legitimate” Croat representative, meaning a member of one of the main Bosnian Croat parties.

Two leading Croat parties, the Croatian Democratic Union, HDZ, and HDZ 1990, earlier also refused to talk to Kukic, maintaining that the only legitimate representative of the Bosnian Croat electoral will is their candidate, Borjana Kristo.

“The problems in forming a new Council of Ministers won’t be solved by proposing Kukic,” Igor Radojicic said.

The next session of Bosnia’s state parliament – at which delegates will vote for or against the proposed candidate – is still on hold, although it was scheduled for last Friday, and then postponed for seven days after Kukic requested additional time for consultations.

So far, Kukic has failed even to gain support from smaller Serb parties, such as the Democratic Progress party, PDP, which didn’t refuse to meet Kukic, but whose officials stressed that the PDP will neither support nor vote against Kukic.

Members of the Serbian Democratic Party, SDS, talked to Kukic in Sarajevo on Wednesday, but they also refused to support him.

To be elected for the post of Prime Minister, Kukic needs both a parliamentary majority and the support of both of Bosnia’s two entities, the Republika Srpska and the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

After the Bosnian Serbs said they would veto the current nominee, Bosnia is not likely to get a new Prime Minister soon, which will only prolong the nine-month impasse over forming the state government.

Kukic announced that he would present his programme at the upcoming parliament session, despite not having support of either the main Serbian or Croatian parties.

“Maybe it will be possible to change the attitude of those who don’t support me,” Kukic suggested.

He reiterated that his exposé in parliament will be based on three main points: the economy, restoring the authority of state institutions within the constitutional framework, and changing Bosnia’s fractured culture of political communication.

An EU official said the real problem wasn’t Kukic personally but the fact that no state government has been formed nearly nine months after the general elections.

Jelko Kacin, deputy chair of the European Parliament’s delegation for Southeast Europe, said on Wednesday that the main issue is not whether Kukic is a legitimate representative of the Croats, or a member of any party, but the fact that Bosnia is no closer to forming a state-level government.

“Kukic is a strong and capable candidate, but if he doesn’t get the support in the [state] parliament, the Presidency will be obliged to find a new candidate,” Kacin predicted.

Balkan Insight

The Balkan Insight (formerly the Balkin Investigative Reporting Network, BIRN) is a close group of editors and trainers that enables journalists in the region to produce in-depth analytical and investigative journalism on complex political, economic and social themes. BIRN emerged from the Balkan programme of the Institute for War & Peace Reporting, IWPR, in 2005. The original IWPR Balkans team was mandated to localise that programme and make it sustainable, in light of changing realities in the region and the maturity of the IWPR intervention. Since then, its work in publishing, media training and public debate activities has become synonymous with quality, reliability and impartiality. A fully-independent and local network, it is now developing as an efficient and self-sustainable regional institution to enhance the capacity for journalism that pushes for public debate on European-oriented political and economic reform.

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