Bosnian No 3 resigns

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The Independent Online
WITH the prospect of a Bosnian peace deal tantalisingly close, the country's Foreign Minister, Muhamed Sacirbey, has offered his resignation, prompting speculation that any agreement would be based on concessions unpalatable to hardliners in the government.

Mr Sacirbey, a telegenic and articulate businessman who became famous as Bosnia's ambassador to the United Nations, told reporters in Dayton, Ohio, that he was resigning to make way for a Bosnian Croat. "The country has to have a Croatian in one of its top three posts. The President isn't going and the Prime Minister doesn't want to go, so I decided I would go," he said.

While it is quite likely that the government's allies in the Muslim- Croat federation do want a Croat in a senior position, UN sources in Sarajevo said Mr Sacirbey's departure was more likely linked to the disputes over the future shape of Bosnia. "He's the known hardliner in the government, and since they are probably being forced to make many concessions, he does not feel that he can stay on."

On Friday night Kresimir Zubak, a Bosnian Croat, resigned as president of the federation but gave no reason for his departure. A Bosnian Croat politician said Mr Zubak left because "he does not wish to sign what he's being asked to".

Mr Sacirbey, who grew up in Ohio and has US citizenship, is believed to be ready to accept a small, Muslim Bosnia, while Haris Silajdzic, the liberal Prime Minister, wants to see the country united and multi-ethnic. "The fact that [Sacirbey] resigned may suggest there is a peace deal in the offing," a UN source said, adding that he did not see a role for Mr Sacirbey in a post-war government because the Bosnian Serbs are not prepared to deal with him.

n Sarajevo (Reuter) - Eight Muslims who escaped when the Serbs overran the eastern Srebrenica enclave earlier this year have been found after hiding in a forest for 130 days and living on apples and snails, Bosnian government television reported.

Fragile peace, page 15