Bosnian Serb party influenced by Milosevic - PM

BANJA LUKA, Bosnia, Feb 22, 2000 -- (Reuters) A political party that pulled out of the Bosnian Serb governing coalition at the weekend was prompted to quit by Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic, Prime Minister Milorad Dodik said on Monday.

Dodik said that the move by the Socialist party, which pulled out of the three-member Sloga (Unity) coalition on Sunday, was inspired by the congress of Milosevic's party held in Belgrade last week.

"It influenced the behavior of some people," Dodik told a news conference, without elaborating.

The Bosnian Serb Socialist party is seen as close to the identically named party of Milosevic, whom Dodik has often accused of meddling in Bosnian Serb politics.

Dodik also said that four Socialist ministers who offered their resignations earlier on Monday had agreed to stay on after consultations with him.

But Sloga, which now comprises Dodik's Independent Social Democrats and the Serb People's Alliance of former President Biljana Plavsic, would call on the Socialist party's Petar Djokic to resign as parliamentary speaker, he said.

The Socialist party's Sunday move came after Dodik had sacked two senior Socialist party officials, including a government minister. Despite angry protests, Dodik refused to reinstate them.

Dodik's government took power in early 1998 after the ouster of Bosnian Serb hardliners still loyal to Bosnian Serb wartime leader Radovan Karadzic.

Sloga, strongly supported by the West, has 28 seats in the 83-seat parliament. Ten of those belong to the Socialist party.

A rival, hardline bloc made up of the Serb Democratic Party and the Radical party have 30 seats.

Sloga has been able to remain in power thanks to the support of two small Bosnian Serb parties, and of Moslem deputies elected mainly by refugees. The next general elections are due in the autumn.

Post-war Bosnia consists of two autonomous entities - the Serb republic and the Moslem-Croat federation, each with their own governments and parliaments.

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