NATO official: Karadzic supporters planned coup
September 9, 1997
Web posted at: 9:29 a.m. EDT (1329 GMT)
BANJA LUKA, Bosnia-Herzegovina (CNN) -- NATO-led peace troops
thwarted a plan by Bosnian Serb infiltrators to oust the
democratically elected Bosnian Serb President Biljana Plavsic, a senior NATO official told CNN on Tuesday.
The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said
infiltrators wearing uniforms and carrying weapons and false
identity papers had been ready to take over the police
station in Banja Luka.
The official said this was part of a coordinated plan to
replace Plavsic with supporters of her main rival, former
president and indicted war-crimes suspect Radovan Karadzic.
"This was going to be an effort to intimidate and drive out
the legitimately elected government of the Bosnian Serb
Republic," the official told CNN. "We thwarted a coup
The statement came after the NATO-led Stabilization Force
(SFOR) turned back dozens of buses carrying Karadzic
supporters who wanted to join an anti-Plavsic rally in her
stronghold of Banja Luka. The buses were trying to break
through a roadblock at Modrica, east of Banja Luka.
Momcilo Krajisnik, a Karadzic supporter and the Serb
representative in Bosnia-Herzegovina's collective presidency,
claimed he was effectively being held hostage by police loyal
to Plavsic in a hotel in Banja Luka. Prime Minister Gojko
Klickovic was also with Krajisnik.
Following an intervention by Gen. Jacques Klein, U.S. deputy
to the international high representative in Bosnia, Carlos
Westendorp, said the hard-line politicians would be allowed
to leave but that their bodyguards would have to lay down
Krajisnik refuses to compromise on TV offer
The confrontation was one of the latest developments in a
two-month-old power struggle between Karadzic, who was forced
to retire from active politics under an agreement with
international peace mediators, and Plavsic, who has accused
Karadzic and Krajisnik of corruption.
|CNN's Mike Hanna reports from Banja Luka:
342K/30 sec. AIFF or WAV sound
The Bosnian Serb news agency SRNA, which is controlled by the
hard-liners, alleged that Krajisnik and his group were
"brutalized" and their cars confiscated by police on Monday
The rally in Banja Luka attracted only 150 Karadzic
supporters, after the demonstrators on buses were turned
away, but SFOR reported tense standoffs between peacekeepers
and frustrated Karadzic activists. Five police were
reportedly hurt in clashes at a checkpoint outside the city.
Plavsic met Krajisnik in the presence of Patriarch Pavle of
the Serbian Orthodox Church during the rally Monday, in an
attempt to find a way to resolve the power struggle.
Political sources said Krajisnik refused an offer by Plavsic
to share national access to Bosnian Serb television, which
now has rival studios in Banja Luka and in Pale, outside
Sarajevo, where the hard-liners are based.
Both Krajisnik and Plavsic rejected Pavle's suggestion that
they should put themselves up for re-election to test their
personal support when the Bosnian Serb republic, which is
part of the Bosnian federation, holds parliamentary elections
International mediators feared that a confrontation had been
engineered to affect the outcome of a campaign for Bosnian
local elections next weekend whose success is vital to the
next stage of the peace process.
Correspondents Mike Hanna and Jamie McIntyre contributed to