Bosnian Serb MPs slam western envoy over border law

BANJA LUKA, Jan 18, 2000 -- (Reuters) Bosnian Serb parliamentarians on Monday denounced as undemocratic a decision by a Western peace envoy to impose legislation on setting up a multi-ethnic border police.

All 11 Serb deputies in the lower house of state parliament put aside internal party differences and issued a joint statement saying they did not accept last week's decision by international High Representative Wolfgang Petritsch.

They said they would file a complaint with Bosnia's constitutional court.

"The deputies are not in the parliament to carry out someone's orders, but to make decisions, otherwise there is no need for them to be there," they said in the statement.

Post-war Bosnia consists of two autonomous entities: the Muslim-Croat federation and the Serb republic, each enjoying wide autonomy.

Under the peace accords that ended 1992-1995 Bosnian war, Petritsch has the power to impose legislation and remove obstructionist officials to bridge the ethnic divide.

Last Thursday, he imposed a draft law creating a state border police to fight smuggling and other cross-border crime after Bosnian Serb deputies voted against it in parliament.

Muslim and Croat deputies supported the legislation, which Western officials say is crucial for Bosnia's integration with the rest of Europe.

Petritsch blasted the Serb deputies after the vote, saying he was dissatisfied with their inability and unwillingness to represent what he described as the honest people of Bosnia.

He said he would not allow a "few irresponsible state representatives" from Bosnia's Serb republic to dash an entire country's hopes for a prosperous future.

[URL may be different next day if article is archived]