Sarajevo Accepts Protesters’ ‘Expert Government’ Demand

Fecha de publicación: 
24 Feb 2014

The cantonal assembly in the Bosnian capital has accepted demands from a ‘citizens’ plenum’ to form a government of experts and to take action to limit officials’ financial privileges.


The assembly's lawmakers on Monday agreed the proposal put forward by the Sarajevo plenum, one of several public forums set up by protesters across the country to advance political demands arising from the recent nationwide demonstrations.

As well as accepting the demand for an expert government, the assembly agreed that officials’ wages should be lowered and that ministers in the cantonal authority should not continue getting their salaries for a year after leaving their jobs – a privilege known locally as the ‘white bread’ perk.

It also called on parties to nominate a new cantonal prime minister after former Sarajevo premier Suad Zeljkovic resigned amid the unrest on February 7, when government buildings were torched as the protests turned violent.

Lawmakers further decided to ask the cantonal privatisation agency to send them all privatisation agreements and called on the public to submit any information about suspicions of wrongdoing in state sell-offs – one of the grievances that sparked the protests earlier this month.

Meanwhile, around a hundred protesters rallied in front of the Bosnian Presidency, blocking traffic in the main Marshal Tito Street.

Protest gatherings had continued over the weekend in Sarajevo, Zenica, Tuzla, Mostar and a few other towns.

In Zenica, a few hundred people rallied to support the demands of their local plenum, which has asked the cantonal assembly to give financial aid to civil victims of the war, former soldiers and to invalids who have lost their benefit rights in recent years.

The plenum in Tuzla over the weekend discussed possible candidates for the new local government, while in Mostar, people rallied to demand the scrapping of benefits and other payments to politicians.

In Sarajevo, well-known Croatian actor Rade Serbedzija joined protesters on the streets to show his support.

"People have the right to ask, in a peaceful way, for answers to questions from the people they have chosen [in elections]," Serbedzija said.

"This is a real people’s uprising," he said.

As well as in Sarajevo, Tuzla and Zenica, plenums have been or are being organised in the towns of Brcko, Bugojno, Fojnica, Konjic, Mostar, Orasje and Travnik.

Most have similar goals - lowering salaries for officials, abolishing additional payments for political office-holders and reviewing privatisations of local companies.

Investigations are still ongoing into the outbreaks of violence at the protests in early February.

Meanwhile international rights group Human Rights Watch has urged the authorities to probe the alleged beating of protesters by police.


Autor: Elvira M. Jukic