Mladic rejects peace plan

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The Independent Online
BOSNIAN Serb army commander General Ratko Mladic yesterday rejected the US-brokered peace deal, saying some of it would have to be renegotiated.

In his first comment on the pact, agreed last week in Dayton, Ohio, Gen Mladic was quoted by the Bosnian Serb news agency SRNA as saying: "Serbs cannot agree with the Dayton maps, under which some territories in which Serbs have lived for centuries have been handed over to the Croat-Muslim coalition."

Gen Mladic told Serb troops in Vlasenica, eastern Bosnia, that a better solution had to be found for some disputed territories, particularly Serb suburbs of Sarajevo that are due to come under Muslim-Croat rule. "We are warning that we cannot let our people live under butchers' rule, and a just solution, especially for Sarajevo, must be found."

US peace negotiators have already ruled out any renegotiation of the Dayton accord making Bosnia a single republic divided into a Muslim-Croat federation and a separate Serb state, which is due to be signed in Paris on 14 December.

"Only the Serbs can be responsible for the Serb future," Gen Mladic said, "and it is up to the Serb army to protect the borders of the [Bosnian] Serb Republic, for which so much blood has been spilled and so many lives lost. It is hard to understand what those who bombed us only a while ago can expect after this piece of paper, which presents legalisation of the occupation of this region."

Gen Mladic did not take part in the Dayton talks, since he and Bosnian Serb "president" Radovan Karadzic have been indicted for war crimes by an international tribunal in The Hague and would have been liable to arrest. It was Gen Mladic's first comment on the accord, and his first reported appearance in public since the initialling of the agreement on 21 November. Mr Karadzic too has called for changes in the parts of the treaty covering Serb-held districts in Sarajevo.