March 7, 1999
BANJA LUKA, Bosnia (CNN) -- The parliament of Bosnia's Serb republic voted Sunday to withdraw all Bosnian Serb representatives from the country's state bodies in protest over an international ruling on a northern town.
In a resolution, the assembly said it did not accept Friday's decision by an international arbiter that failed to award the strategic town of Brcko to the Serb republic, one of Bosnia's two autonomous entities.
In the resolution, adopted by a clear majority, the assembly said it withdrew its five deputies in the upper house of the state parliament, which groups representatives from both entities: the Serb republic and the Muslim-Croat federation.
It also instructed other Bosnian Serb officials to call off their participation in state bodies, and said it would not accept decisions made by Bosnia's state institutions in the absence of these Serb representatives.
Parliament also called for an urgent meeting of the Contact Group on the former Yugoslavia -- the United States, Russia, Britain, France, Germany and Italy -- to bring the decision on Brcko "in accord with the Dayton agreement."
The decision to turn Brcko into a self-governing neutral district has caused outrage in Bosnia's Serb half.
Bosnian Serbs see the town on the border with Croatia as a lifeline linking the eastern and western parts of their territory and say the decision to remove it from their control in effect divides the Serb republic into two parts.
During the session, lawmakers also declared that a second international ruling removing their hard-line president, , was unconstitutional and "therefore not accepted."
The decision to fire Poplasen was made after he refused to appoint moderate Milorad Dodik as prime minister. Dodik has been serving in a caretaker role since September.
, the senior international official overseeing Bosnia, indicated that NATO peacekeepers will enforce the decision if Poplasen continues to refuse to leave the post.
"He has to go," Westendorp was quoted as saying by the Spanish daily El Pais. "If he doesn't do it on good terms, the local security forces will have to remove him, and if they can't do it, it'll be the international forces who do it."
Both decisions prompted a rash of political resignations and protest rallies since the announcements Friday.
The rulings were aimed at imparting democracy and peace in Bosnia, which is still struggling in the aftermath of a bloody ethnic war that ended with the signing of the Dayton peace accord in 1995.
Since then, Bosnia has been divided between a Serb Republic and a Muslim-Croat Federation and is governed by a complex, ethnic-based political system.
Dodik, the Western-backed premier, had appealed for international officials to change the decision revoking exclusive Serb control of Brcko. Dodik earlier announced his resignation over the matter.
Before the Bosnian Serb parliament vote, Victoria Garcia, a spokeswoman for Westendorp, said revisions in the Brcko decision are possible, but a reversal is not.
NATO troops remained on alert Sunday, and the U.S. Embassy urged its citizens in Bosnian Serb territory to consider leaving. On Saturday night, protesters smashed and burned cars belonging to international organizations.
Speaking at a rally in the northern town of Doboj, Slobodan Cvijic, adviser to Poplasen, demanded that NATO peacekeepers and U.N. civilian police leave Doboj by midnight or Serb authorities could not guarantee their safety.
Reuters contributed to this report.
CNN SPECIAL SECTIONS:
Disputed Bosnian town to be run by all ethnic groups
Office of the High Representative in Bosnia & Herzegovina
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