Military warn over Bosnian Serb split

Bosnian Serb President Biljana Plavsic has won the first round of her battle with supporters of Radovan Karadzic, but she has a hard struggle ahead which could still split the Bosnian Serb mini-state in two, geographically as well as politically.

Yesterday, the Bosnian Serb military staff based in Bijeljina warned Ms Plavsic that it would move against her to prevent the Republika Srpska splitting in two.

Ms Plavsic yesterday appeared to have wrested control of the Banja Luka police from officers loyal to Mr Karadzic and the UN has started re-training Bosnian Serb policemen in Banja Luka to create a "non-political" police force as part of efforts to defuse conflict within the Serb community and to consolidate a peaceful, democratic society. But the Bosnian Serb military remains an obstacle.

The Republika Srpska comprises two lobes connected by the narrow Posavina corridor running past Brcko in the north. The political division reflects the geographical: Banja Luka, a large city in the north-west, is one of two main power centres in the Serb "entity" within Bosnia. The other is Pale in the east, the official "capital", a former ski resort outside Sarajevo. Banja Luka is Ms Plavsic's power base, and its politics have traditionally been more moderate, in contrast to Pale, where Momcilo Krajisnik, the Serb representative on the three-man Bosnian presidency, Mr Karadzic and General Ratko Mladic are based.

A civil war between Serbs would probably split the Bosnian Serb republic on those lines, weakening it, inviting the Muslims to push north through the Posavina corridor - which was almost cut during the 1992-95 civil war - making it easier for Muslim and Croat refugees to return home and for Nato troops to seize Mr Karadzic and General Mladic, who are wanted for war crimes.

"If individual actors in the crisis should continue to destabilise and destroy the state, the army of the Serb Republic shall no longer tolerate and warn but shall undertake measures to defend integrity, sovereignty and constitutional order," the Bosnian Serb general staff said in a statement released in Pale. It was clearly aimed at Ms Plavsic, and noted that the military had warned her last month that the international community could exploit the internal dispute to weaken the Bosnian Serb "republic".

Ms Plavsic seems to be winning control of the police, leaving the military as the last bastion of pro-Karadzic forces.

On Wednesday, 350 British and Czech troops swooped to disarm pro-Karadzic police in Banja Luka who were believed to be plotting a coup against Ms Plavsic. The international stabilisation force - S-For - reduced its active presence on the streets of Banja Luka to 250 on Thursday. Yesterday they were hoping to reduce it further although extra troops will remain on patrol until the International Police Task Force has completed investigations into alleged human rights abuses by police.

Serb policemen who want to serve in the new force are being vetted to check they have no criminal record or outstanding allegations of human rights abuses against them. In practice, they are being asked to sign a pledge of loyalty to Ms Plavsic. International officials said many police were responding throughout the region.

"Plavsic has made a gaping hole in the police network and the army has refused to get involved while tacitly supporting Plavsic," a diplomatic source said last night. If the Karadzic faction is putting its faith in the Bosnian Serb military, its position is looking increasingly desperate.

Life and Style
A teenager boy wakes up.
life
Life and Style
It is believed that historically rising rates of alcohol consumption have contributed to the increase
food + drink
Voices
The erotic novel Fifty Shades of Grey has already been blamed for a rise in the number of callouts to the fire brigade for people trapped in handcuffs
voicesJustine Elyot: Since Fifty Shades there's no need to be secretive about it — everyone's at it
Arts and Entertainment
Critics say Kipling showed loathing for India's primitive villagers in The Jungle Book
filmChristopher Walken, Bill Murray, Scarlett Johanssen Idris Elba, Andy Serkis, Benedict Cumberbatch, Cate Blanchett and Christian Bale
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Life and Style
Playing to win: for Tanith Carey, pictured with Lily, right, and Clio, even simple games had to have an educational purpose
lifeTanith Carey explains what made her take her foot off the gas
Arts and Entertainment
The White Sails Hospital and Spa is to be built in the new Tunisia Economic City.
architectureRussian billionaire designs boat-shaped hospital for new Dubai-style Tunisia Economic City
Arts and Entertainment
You could be in the Glastonbury crowd next summer if you follow our tips for bagging tickets this week
music
Life and Style
tech
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

Trainee Helpdesk Analyst / 1st Line Application Support Analyst

£18000 per annum: Ashdown Group: An established and growing IT Consultancy fir...

Data Analyst / Marketing Database Analyst

£24000 per annum: Ashdown Group: An established and growing IT Consultancy fir...

IT Systems Manager

£40000 - £45000 per annum + pension, healthcare,25 days: Ashdown Group: An est...

Science Teacher

£100 - £110 per day: Randstad Education Group: Science Supply Teacher position...

Day In a Page

Isis is an hour from Baghdad, the Iraq army has little chance against it, and air strikes won't help

Isis an hour away from Baghdad -

and with no sign of Iraq army being able to make a successful counter-attack
Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

The exhibition nods to rich and potentially brilliant ideas, but steps back
Last chance to see: Half the world’s animals have disappeared over the last 40 years

Last chance to see...

The Earth’s animal wildlife population has halved in 40 years
So here's why teenagers are always grumpy - and it's not what you think

Truth behind teens' grumpiness

Early school hours mess with their biological clocks
Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?

Hacked photos: the third wave

Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?
Royal Ballet star dubbed 'Charlize Theron in pointe shoes' takes on Manon

Homegrown ballerina is on the rise

Royal Ballet star Melissa Hamilton is about to tackle the role of Manon
Education, eduction, education? Our growing fascination with what really goes on in school

Education, education, education

TV documentaries filmed in classrooms are now a genre in their own right
It’s reasonable to negotiate with the likes of Isis, so why don’t we do it and save lives?

It’s perfectly reasonable to negotiate with villains like Isis

So why don’t we do it and save some lives?
This man just ran a marathon in under 2 hours 3 minutes. Is a 2-hour race in sight?

Is a sub-2-hour race now within sight?

Dennis Kimetto breaks marathon record
We shall not be moved, say Stratford's single parents fighting eviction

Inside the E15 'occupation'

We shall not be moved, say Stratford single parents
Air strikes alone will fail to stop Isis

Air strikes alone will fail to stop Isis

Talks between all touched by the crisis in Syria and Iraq can achieve as much as the Tornadoes, says Patrick Cockburn
Nadhim Zahawi: From a refugee on welfare to the heart of No 10

Nadhim Zahawi: From a refugee on welfare to the heart of No 10

The Tory MP speaks for the first time about the devastating effect of his father's bankruptcy
Witches: A history of misogyny

Witches: A history of misogyny

The sexist abuse that haunts modern life is nothing new: women have been 'trolled' in art for 500 years
Shona Rhimes interview: Meet the most powerful woman in US television

Meet the most powerful woman in US television

Writer and producer of shows like Grey's Anatomy, Shonda Rhimes now has her own evening of primetime TV – but she’s taking it in her stride
'Before They Pass Away': Endangered communities photographed 'like Kate Moss'

Endangered communities photographed 'like Kate Moss'

Jimmy Nelson travelled the world to photograph 35 threatened tribes in an unashamedly glamorous style