Bosnia's multi-ethnic parliament has first meeting
January 3, 1997
Web posted at: 4:00 p.m. EST (2100 GMT)
SARAJEVO, Bosnia-Herzegovina (CNN) -- In an important step in
Bosnia's reunification, Muslim, Serb and Croat lawmakers met
for the first time Friday in a joint Parliament session.
The multi-ethnic parliament appointed a peacetime Cabinet
that will rule over a loose union of Serb and Muslim-Croat
The 42-member House of Representatives, holding its first
full session since post-war elections in September, backed
nominations for the Cabinet submitted by Bosnia's collective
presidency with only one deputy abstaining.
Muslim, Croat and Serb deputies empowered the Cabinet, or
Council of Ministers, to form a weak central authority
governing an autonomous Muslim-Croat federation and Serb
Joint governing problems averted?
The constitution set out under the Dayton peace agreement
requires consensus among the three national communities but
critics say the joint governing bodies could end up
But international mediator Michael Steiner said the new
Cabinet, presidency and parliament provided a mechanism to
settle disputes. "This is a process of creeping
implementation. It's moving forward slowly," he said.
After the parliament vote the Council of Ministers held its
first session and discussed an international conference in
February on reconstruction aid for Bosnia, Steiner said.
The Council of Ministers is led by two co-chairmen, Haris
Silajdzic, a Muslim and former Bosnian prime minister, and
Boro Bosic, a Serb.
Other ministry posts were distributed equally among national
communities, a formula that was employed in old Yugoslavia
before the 1992-95 war.
Entered Serb territory without incident
A 15-member upper chamber, the House of Peoples, also met for
the first time in the Sarajevo suburb of Lukavica in Serb-
controlled territory on Friday afternoon.
Muslim and Croat members were allowed to enter Serb
territory without incident, unlike ordinary Bosnians who risk
arrest or worse if they try to return to homes from which
they fled or were expelled.
NATO Secretary-General Javier Solana and Supreme Allied
Commander Gen. George Joulwan traveled to Sarajevo to mark
what they called an important step forward in the peace
Speaking after meeting members of the collective presidency,
Solana said it was ultimately up to Bosnian political leaders
and not NATO peacekeeping troops to build a lasting peace.
Some 35,000 troops are currently deployed in Bosnia as part
of the NATO-led Stabilization Force (SFOR), policing the
peace treaty under an 18-month mandate.
Friday's parliament session -- held in Sarajevo's National
Museum -- had been repeatedly delayed over the past three
months with Serb leaders arguing over where the meeting
should be held.
Reuters contributed to this report.
Related sites: Note: Pages will open in a new browser window
External sites are not endorsed by CNN Interactive.
© 1997 Cable News Network, Inc.
All Rights Reserved.