Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Bosnian Serb Political Duel Could Make Way for Deal

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Bosnian Serb Political Duel Could Make Way for Deal

Article excerpt

INTENSE fighting continued in Croatia yesterday, and up to 80,000 Croatian Serb refugees were caught in the midst of heavy shelling, UN officials say.

But attention also was focusing on a political duel between the two top Bosnian Serb leaders who could bring peace to the war-ravaged Balkans.

Bosnian Serb president Radovan Karadzic and Bosnian Serb military commander Gen. Ratko Mladic are engaged in a battle for control of the Bosnian Serb forces.

The general, who has conquered 70 percent of Bosnia, oversaw the "ethnic cleansing" of 45,000 people from eastern Bosnia last month, and reportedly gives out photo albums showcasing the damage he has wrought on Sarajevo.

Mr. Karadzic, who wrote poems glorifying war as a young man, calls Bosnia's Muslims "Turks" - referring to the period of Ottoman rule - and personally ordered that UN peacekeepers be handcuffed to bridges and ammunition dumps as "human shields" against NATO airstrikes.

Western observers are hoping that Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic, eager to have UN economic sanctions against his country lifted, is orchestrating a showdown between the two Bosnian Serb leaders.

The usually astute Karadzic demoted General Mladic last week and declared himself commander of the Bosnian Serb army (BSA).

Last summer, in what was probably his largest political mistake, Karadzic infuriated President Milosevic by refusing to accept the Western nations' peace plan that divided Bosnia in half.

Mladic, who is revered by his troops and reportedly backed by Milosevic, refused to accept his demotion. "I remain at my post as commander of the general staff of the BSA...," Mladic said in a statement faxed to Western news agencies Saturday. "I entered the war as a soldier, and I want to leave it as a soldier."

On Sunday, 18 senior Bosnian Serb generals declared that they will follow orders from Mladic only and decried Karadzic's attempted takeover. But civilian leader Karadzic countered by having the Bosnian Serb assembly - the parliament of the self-declared Bosnian Serb state - overwhelmingly vote in favor of ousting Mladic.

Rumors of a coup by Mladic, who controls the military, are rife. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.