Bosnian truce delayed as enemies haggle

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The Independent Online
Bosnia's proposed ceasefire was postponed yet again last night amid political wriggling over the level of electricity supplies in Sarajevo and military manoeuvres on the front lines. A UN report concluded that the preconditions for the truce - the restoration of utilities to the capital - had been fulfilled.

The government - whose army is gaining ground in the north - offered to start the truce at midnight tonight, when electricity flow to the city should have doubled, and the Serbs responded by saying they were authorised only to agree a ceasefire starting last night. Aleksa Buha, the rebel Serb negotiator, promised an answer to the offer by 7pm tonight.

The UN's report to the warring parties at a meeting last night stated that 20 megawatts was flowing to the city and that it would take another day or so for the electricity level to reach the 35 to 40MW piped to citizens before supplies were cut off by the Serbs in May. The flow of natural gas was equal to levels in April and set to improve.

However, the explanation of the government's position was probably to be found in the situation on the battlefield rather than in megawatt measurements.

Mrkonjic Grad, the last obstacle on a major road linking government gains in northern and central Bosnia, fell to the Bosnian Army yesterday and the Muslims may well be playing for enough time to secure a number of key routes.

Earlier, amidst hopes of an imminent ceasefire, it was announced that Britain is to host a Peace Implementation Conference for the warring parties in the Balkans, probably next month. The State Department announced that peace talks between Bosnia's warring factions will open at an as yet undecided site on the US East Coast on 31 October.

Announcing the London meeting yesterday, the Foreign Secretary, Malcolm Rifkind, told the Conservative Party conference that the meeting would settle the role, size and duration of the Peace Implementation Force. It would also consider future humanitarian needs, reconstruction plans and organise future elections.

Yesterday the UN announced that its civilian head of operations in Yugoslavia, Yasushi Akashi, would leave his post in three weeks time.

Light in Sarajevo, page 12