Bosnian rivals agree to hold new elections Pact expected to end impasse between backers of Karadzic, president

September 25, 1997|By LOS ANGELES TIMES

SARAJEVO, Bosnia-Herzegovina -- Moving to end a volatile power struggle that has increasingly sucked in NATO peacekeepers, the Western-backed Bosnian Serb president agreed yesterday with her hard-line rivals to new elections and shared access to state television.

The agreement, brokered in Belgrade by Slobodan Milosevic, the president of neighboring Yugoslavia, was seen by international mediators as a breakthrough.

The deal is aimed at resolving a stubborn impasse that pitted Bosnian Serb President Biljana Plavsic against allies of indicted war-crimes suspect Radovan Karadzic. The agreement gave Plavsic the new parliamentary elections she sought but puts her job up for grabs as well.

As the crisis in the past several months drove a wedge through Republika Srpska, the Bosnian Serb republic, Washington and NATO backed Plavsic and helped her install loyal police in a string of cities in northwestern Bosnia-Herzegovina. But the violence made Western peacekeepers eager for a political solution.

The deal is risky for Plavsic. Karadzic's allies, grouped behind Momcilo Krajisnik, the Bosnian Serb member of Bosnia-Herzegovina's three-man presidency, control the dominant political party.

"Both sides will take necessary measures to stop all confrontations which lead to the division of Republika Srpska," the agreement stated, according to the official Yugoslav news agency Tanjug.

The agreement emerged from an extraordinary five-hour meeting between Plavsic and Milosevic. Former allies turned bitter enemies, the two had refused to talk until now.

Plavsic, like Karadzic an extreme nationalist who advocated the brutal wartime purge of non-Serbs from parts of the former Yugoslav Federation, broke with her former mentor this year and accused him and his hard-line supporters of enriching themselves through illegal smuggling while the Bosnian Serb people languished in isolation and poverty.

In July, she dissolved the Parliament stacked with hard-liners. Krajisnik ignored her action.

Under yesterday's agreement, however, he accepted a Nov. 15 date for the election of a new parliament. She in turn agreed to Dec. 7 presidential elections, when Krajisnik's seat on the joint presidency will be disputed as well.

At the United Nations yesterday, foreign ministers of the six-nation "Contact Group" threatened "increasingly strong measures" against those who try to prevent the winners of last month's municipal elections from assuming office or, more generally, thwart implementation of the Dayton peace accord.

Pub Date: 9/25/97

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