Bosnian Serbs urge West to remove Muslim leader

BANJA LUKA, Bosnia, Jan 25, 2000 -- (Reuters) The government of Bosnia's Serb republic urged the West's representative on Monday to remove a Muslim leader after he called for the 1995 Dayton peace treaty to be revised.

Haris Silajdzic, the Muslim member of Bosnia's central government, said on the weekend there was an urgent need to change the U.S.-brokered treaty which divided Bosnia into a Serb republic and a Muslim-Croat federation.

Silajdzic made his call during an informal summit of Balkan leaders in Bulgaria which was also attended by senior European Union and NATO officials.

Silajdzic told Bosnian radio on Saturday that it was a "dangerous illusion to build democracy on the outcome of genocide". He appeared to be referring to widespread "ethnic cleansing" during the war that left thousands dead, 800,000 people displaced and the country ethnically divided.

Silajdzic did not elaborate on how the Dayton treaty should be changed.

The coalition of Western-backed Bosnian Serb Prime Minister Milorad Dodik urged the West's High Representative in Bosnia, Wolfgang Petritsch, to remove Silajdzic.

It also called on the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) to bar Silajdzic from running in local elections in April.

Petritsch has the power to remove local officials who obstruct the peace process. But his spokesman said there was no question of removing Silajdzic.

Spokesman James Ferguson added that his remarks had not been "particularly helpful", saying there was a need for further implementation of Dayton rather than a revision.

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