Ethnic divisions threaten Bosnia again as Prime Minister quits over 'interference'

The Prime Minister of Bosnia-Herzegovina resigned yesterday, claiming that interference from the international community had made his job impossible. The exit of Nikola Spiric, a Bosnian Serb, plunged the ethnically divided state into its worst crisis since the war ended in 1995. "For 12 years, foreigners have run this country and this is not good," Mr Spiric said. "I resign and this is the only right decision."

Mr Spiric's departure comes after Miroslav Lajcak, the High Representative to Bosnia appointed by the United Nations and the European Union, introduced measures aimed at improving the efficiency of Bosnia's government. Mr Lajcak, a Slovak diplomat, reduced the number of ministers needed to be present to pass laws, preventing any one ethnic group from creating a deadlock by walking out. He called Mr Spiric's resignation "too emotional" and "completely irresponsible".

The arrival of Mr Lajcak was intended to help Bosnia achieve its long-term goal of joining the EU by speeding up the decision-making process in the country's often fractious central government. Instead of consensus, Mr Lajcak introduced the simple majority principle, which was fiercely opposed by Bosnian Serbs. They fear they will lose influence to the country's other ethnic groups and their semi-autonomous mini-state within Bosnia-Herzegovina.

The crippling legislative system was established in 1995 by the Dayton Peace accord, which ended three years of war between the Bosnian Muslims, Croats and Serbs in Bosnia. The agreement divided the country into two mini-states – a Bosnian-Croat Federation and a Serb Republic – each with their own police, judiciary, parliaments and governments. In an attempt to unite the two factions into one state, centralised institutions and a rotating, three-person presidency were grafted on top. However, deep ethnic rivalries have impeded the work of central government ever since and no international effort has been able to glue the country together.

Critics say one key reason for this is that the war ended without a clear winner or loser, and the Dayton accord served only to cement the ethnic divisions which were so brutally apparent during the war. Multi-ethnic cities turned into mono-ethnic ones, as their populations moved to parts of Bosnia where one ethnic group dominated, taking their hatred and intolerance with them. The two mini-states have separate education systems, the country remains poor and economic recovery has been slow because of the persistent divisions. Full integration is fiercely opposed by the Bosnian Serbs, who look to Belgrade as their capital, rather than Sarajevo.

On Wednesday, Mr Lajcak's reforms won support from the steering board of Bosnia's Peace Implementation Council, which comprises more than 40 countries and overseas organisations and oversees the conditions of the peace agreement. However, his decisions were criticised by the nationalist government of the Serbian Prime Minister, Vojislav Kostunica, who described them as another conspiracy against Serbs in the Balkan region, which would lead to independence for Kosovo and the "disappearance" of the Bosnian Serb Republic.

Earlier this week, Bosnian Serb leaders organised protest rallies against Mr Lajcak and appealed to Russia's President, Vladimir Putin, to "help endangered fellow Serbs". They may call a referendum on independence once Kosovo proclaims its autonomy. Analysts say this could destabilise the entire region.

The crisis in Bosnia cannot be solved by new elections. Under the law, the presidency – which alternates between a Bosniak, Serb and Croat leader – has to nominate a candidate for prime minister to be approved by the central parliament. Bosnian Serb MPs are unlikely to support any new candidate, meaning the country will in effect be left without an acting administration.

Arts and Entertainment
Banksy's 'The Girl with the Pierced Eardrum' in Bristol
art'Girl with the Pierced Eardrum' followed hoax reports artist had been arrested and unveiled
News
peopleJust weeks after he created dress for Alamuddin-Clooney wedding
Life and Style
tech

Sales of the tablet are set to fall again, say analysts

Life and Style
A street vendor in Mexico City sells Dorilocos, which are topped with carrot, jimaca, cucumber, peanuts, pork rinds, spices and hot sauce
food + drink

Trend which requires crisps, a fork and a strong stomach is sweeping Mexico's streets

PROMOTED VIDEO
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Arts and Entertainment
George Lucas poses with a group of Star Wars-inspired Disney characters at Disney's Hollywood Studios in 2010
films

George Lucas criticises the major Hollywood film studios

Sport
football West Brom vs Man Utd match report: Blind grabs point, but away form a problem for Van Gaal
Arts and Entertainment
Bloom Time: Mira Sorvino
tvMira Sorvino on leaving movie roles for 'The Intruders'
Arts and Entertainment
Gotham is coming to UK shores this autumn
tvGotham, episode 2, review
News
i100
Sport
Adel Taraabt in action for QPR against West Ham earlier this month
footballQPR boss says midfielder is 'not fit to play football'
News
First woman: Valentina Tereshkova
peopleNASA guinea pig Kate Greene thinks it might fly
Voices
Chris Grayling, Justice Secretary: 'There are pressures which we are facing but there is not a crisis'
voices

Does Chris Grayling realise what a vague concept he is dealing with?

Life and Style
The charity Sands reports that 11 babies are stillborn everyday in the UK
lifeEleven babies are stillborn every day in the UK, yet no one speaks about this silent tragedy
News
Blackpool is expected to become one of the first places to introduce the Government’s controversial new Public Space Protection Orders (PSPOs)
news

Parties threaten resort's image as a family destination

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

** Female PE Teacher Urgently Required In Liverpool **

£120 - £140 per day: Randstad Education Liverpool: Job opportunities for Secon...

** Cover Supervisors Urgently Required In Knowsley **

£60 - £65 per day: Randstad Education Liverpool: Job opportunities for Seconda...

Java developer - (Intershop Enfinity)

£40000 - £50000 per annum + benefits: Ampersand Consulting LLP: Java Developer...

School Office/ Finance Assistant

Negotiable: Randstad Education Ilford: School Office/ Finance Assistant Long t...

Day In a Page

Two super-sized ships have cruised into British waters, but how big can these behemoths get?

Super-sized ships: How big can they get?

Two of the largest vessels in the world cruised into UK waters last week
British doctors on brink of 'cure' for paralysis with spinal cord treatment

British doctors on brink of cure for paralysis

Sufferers can now be offered the possibility of cure thanks to a revolutionary implant of regenerative cells
Ranked seventh in world’s best tourist cities - not London, or Edinburgh, but Salisbury

Salisbury ranked seventh in world’s best tourist cities

The city is home to one of the four surviving copies of the Magna Carta, along with the world’s oldest mechanical clock
Let's talk about loss

We need to talk about loss

Secrecy and silence surround stillbirth
Will there be an all-female mission to Mars?

Will there be an all-female mission to Mars?

Women may be better suited to space travel than men are
Oscar Pistorius sentencing: The athlete's wealth and notoriety have provoked a long overdue debate on South African prisons

'They poured water on, then electrified me...'

If Oscar Pistorius is sent to jail, his experience will not be that of other inmates
James Wharton: The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

Life after the Army has brought new battles for the LGBT activist James Wharton
Ebola in the US: Panic over the virus threatens to infect President Obama's midterms

Panic over Ebola threatens to infect the midterms

Just one person has died, yet November's elections may be affected by what Republicans call 'Obama's Katrina', says Rupert Cornwell
Premier League coaches join the RSC to swap the tricks of their trades

Darling, you were fabulous! But offside...

Premier League coaches are joining the RSC to learn acting skills, and in turn they will teach its actors to play football. Nick Clark finds out why
How to dress with authority: Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear

How to dress with authority

Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear
New book on Joy Division's Ian Curtis sheds new light on the life of the late singer

New book on Ian Curtis sheds fresh light on the life of the late singer

'Joy Division were making art... Ian was for real' says author Jon Savage
Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

The Bafta-winner talks Hollywood, being branded a psycho, and how Barbra Streisand is his true inspiration
Tim Minchin, interview: The musician, comedian and world's favourite ginger is on scorching form

Tim Minchin interview

For a no-holds-barred comedian who is scathing about woolly thinking and oppressive religiosity, he is surprisingly gentle in person
Boris Johnson's boozing won't win the puritan vote

Boris's boozing won't win the puritan vote

Many of us Brits still disapprove of conspicuous consumption – it's the way we were raised, says DJ Taylor
Ash frontman Tim Wheeler reveals how he came to terms with his father's dementia

Tim Wheeler: Alzheimer's, memories and my dad

Wheeler's dad suffered from Alzheimer's for three years. When he died, there was only one way the Ash frontman knew how to respond: with a heartfelt solo album