Bosnian MPs tell Rose to go

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The chorus of criticism aimed at Lieutenant-General Sir Michael Rose reached a crescendo yesterday when all eight Bosnian parliamentary parties, backed by several ministers, demanded his resignation as UN commander in Bosnia.

Accusing the British general of pro-Serbian bias, the MPs said he was more interested in serving the interests of his government than in fulfilling the UN's mission.

The charge was denied by Yasushi Akashi, the UN envoy to former Yugoslavia, who told the Bosnian Vice-President, Ejup Ganic, that General Rose had his full support.

'We can't accept the behaviour of the commander of Unprofor (UN Protection Force) in Bosnia-Herzegovina . . . who did everything and does everything to water down the determination of the free world to punish crime and Fascism and divert it to lesser things,' said a statement issued after the parliamentary meeting. 'That is why we are asking Sir Michael Rose to leave the post he has now. We are asking for an impartial, objective commander - one who will implement UN resolutions on the ground, a man who will be an official of the UN and not a general who protects the interests of his government.'

Bosnian officials and some UN personnel have often accused General Rose of double standards, playing down serious Serbian abuses while chastising the Sarajevo government for lesser ceasefire violations.

They claim he interprets his mandate - to feed and protect civilians in 'safe areas' - in the narrowest possible way and shrinks from using Nato and UN fire-power to coerce the Serbs into compliance. The general has always rejected this argument, saying his troops are not equipped to fight.

The criticism, which was backed by Hasan Muratovic, the Bosnian minister responsible for Unprofor relations, was by far the strongest made in public.

'The target of the Unprofor mission is first to freeze the existing situation, to get agreement from the Serb side for every action they take as well as to get agreement from the Serb side to supply themselves,' said Mr Muratovic, who is respected by UN officials. 'The representatives of the parliamentary parties agreed that this freezing of the situation is unacceptable even if the price of that is the withdrawal of Unprofor.'

The dispute erupted over the invasion by Bosnian soldiers of a demilitarised zone on Mount Igman, west of Sarajevo, in breach of an agreement brokered by the UN. General Rose has demanded their unconditional withdrawal. The government wants peace-keepers, as a quid pro quo, to secure a road over Mt Igman, the only land route into the besieged city. Yesterday, President Alija Izetbegovic agreed, after meeting General Rose, to order his troops out.

Despite the agreement civilians are still exposed to Serbian guns; last night nine people were reported wounded when snipers fired on a tram.

(Photograph omitted)