Dispute threatens Bosnian Serb government coalition

BANJA LUKA, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Jan 30, 2000 -- (AFP) The unity of the Bosnian Serb government's coalition appeared threatened Saturday by a dispute between the Socialist Party (SP RS) and Republika Srpska's Prime Minister Milorad Dodik.

Dodik sacked his deputy, Socialist Tihomir Gligoric, on Friday, saying Gligoric had been in conflict with most of the other members of the cabinet.

Gligoric was refused access by security officers to a government session on Saturday.

Zivko Radisic, SP RS president and the Serb member of Bosnia's collective presidency, wrote to Dodik demanding that Gligoric be reinstated.

"Otherwise, we will consider that you endangered the existence of coalition Sloga", Radisic said in the letter released on Saturday.

Dodik showed no sign of reinstating Gligoric, telling journalists after Saturday's cabinet meeting that he would sack Dragutin Ilic, chief of the SP RS caucus in the national assembly, from his job as manager of the RS pension fund.

However, he acknowledged the seriousness of the situation by announcing that he was canceling a planned visit to Washington over the weekend.

The SP RS has five ministers in the Republika Srpska government.

Relations between Dodik and the SP RS have been uneasy in the past few months. Dodik, a moderate, suspects that the Socialists are tempted by a switch of allegiance and an alliance with Dodik's opponents from the nationalist bloc.