The main Bosnian Serb party, the Alliance of Independent Social Democrats, SNSD, has threatened to block the work of Bosnia’s long-awaited new state government, the Council of Ministers, which is holding its first session on Tuesday.
Following a meeting of the party leadership on Monday, SNSD officials pledged to expand their boycott of state institutions, which is already affecting the work of the state parliament.
“We have a Council of Ministers that is illegal and against the constitution,” the head of the SNSD club in the state parliament's House of Representatives, Stasa Kosarac, said after the meeting.
The SNSD says the new Council of Ministers is unconstitutional and illegal because its chairman, Denis Zvizdic, has not yet named one of the deputy ministers who is supposed to represent Bosnia's "others".
This is the category of citizens who do not declare themselves as belonging to one of the three main constituent ethnic groups of Bosniaks, Serbs and Croats.
Kosarac said that SNSD will look into “modalities” of how to dispute and block the Council of Ministers’ work, and added that SNSD will continue to boycott the House of Representatives.
The SNSD has been boycotting the House of Representatives since January. It claims that its chairman, Sefik Dzaferovic, who comes from the [Bosniak] Party of Democratic Action, SDA, was involved in war crimes, although prosecutors say there is no material for any investigation against him.
In the past few weeks, the SNSD has also blocked the work of the state parliament's other chamber, the House of Peoples, complaining that their candidates have not been appointed to posts on key parliamentary commissions.
Experts and international officials say that the true source of the SNSD’s outrage is the fact that Bosnia's main Bosniak and Croat parties have chosen another Serbian party as their preferred coalition partner at state level.
The last general elections in October 2014 saw a tight race between two opposing Bosnian Serb political blocs.
The SNSD narrowly managed to establish the government in Bosnia's Serb-dominated entity, Republika Srpska.
However, the opposition bloc, led by the Serbian Democratic Party, SDS, and the Party of Democratic Progress, PDP, took the post of Serbian member of Bosnia’s three-member presidency. The bloc also won an equal share of seats in the state parliament to the SNSD and joined the ruling coalition at state level.
This rivalry has led to new political struggles, which became evident in the growing verbal exchanges between the two opposing Serb blocs over the past few days.
“This is a game of nerves,” Srdjan Puhalo, a Banja Luka-based political analyst and blogger told Balkan Insight.
He said the SNSD was hurt most by having lost control of the appointment of directors and main boards in the state security agencies and other key institutions and public companies.
Another problem for the party is that the engagement of the Bosnian Serb opposition bloc at state level has shown people in Republika Srpska that there is a political alternative to the SNSD, he explained.
“The SNSD is taking this really hard and that's why...they are distracting attention from those topics that really bother them in Republika Srpska, such as the constantly worsening economic situation,” Puhalo concluded.