Bosnia and Herzegovina: Allegations Fly in Political Fracas

Opposition parties in Republika Srpska (RS) have lodged a criminal complaint against the RS prime minister and finance minister over a controversial loan the government took, allegedly without National Assembly approval.

Zeljka CvijanovicThe development, the latest in a long line of accusations, has heightened conflict between major parties in the RS, one of the two semi-independent bodies that make up Bosnia and Herzegovina.

The opposition bloc, the Alliance for Changes, accuses the government, led by the Party of Independent Social-Democratas (SNSD), of taking a US-based loan worth US$ 300 million. In turn, the government accuses opposition parties of blocking financial flows and thus deepening the economic crisis and causing social unrest, according to the news portal BalkanInsight.

The lender is Global Bancorp Commodities & Investment – based in Sarasota, Florida and, according to a number of local news portals, managed by a Russian citizen. RS President Milorad Dodik negotiated the loan during his October visit to Moscow.

The opposition says taking the loan without approval of the RS National Assembly violates the RS constitution. They have filed criminal complaints against Prime Minister Zeljka Cvijanovic and Finance Minister Zoran Telgetija – both members of the SNSD, led by Dodik.

Dragan Cavic, leader of the NDP party within the Alliance for Changes, said, "We have exhausted all legal and democratic possibilities to fight illegality directed by the RS Government. We have had similar things before, which are also proven in auditor's reports. We have filed a criminal complaint stating violation of the constitution, and there is reasonable suspicion that, based on two articles of the RS Criminal Code, they (Cvijanovic and Telgetija) are guilty of a criminal offense."

Furthermore, many things about the loan remain secretive, as the government has refused to provide assembly deputies with a copy of the agreement.

Cvijanovic says this case is another attempt to destabilize the RS. She has earlier accused opposition parties of colluding with foreign actors in order to topple the government.

The recent political crisis in the RS stems from a series of accusations the opposition bloc has leveled against Milorad Dodik and his associates – including large-scale corruption, tax fraudand vote-buying.

Meanwhile, Dodik says the Alliance for Changes has devised a secret plan - together with foreign actors, some smaller parties, NGO's and some media - to topple him.