Top envoy blasts Bosnia authorities over new PM

SARAJEVO, Jun 8, 2000 -- (Reuters) The West's top envoy in Bosnia on Wednesday blasted the appointment of a little known Serb professor as the country's next prime minister.

Parliament approved Spasoje Tusevljak, reported to have been an economics adviser to indicted war criminal Radovan Karadzic, as rotating chairman of the Council of Ministers on Tuesday.

Western envoy Wolfgang Petritsch, who has sweeping powers to implement Bosnia's peace process, slammed the move.

"I want to express my deep dissatisfaction about the process of selecting the most important executive in this country," he said after a meeting with the three-man presidency that proposed Tusevljak, 48, last month.

"A candidate was selected (who) is virtually unknown in this country," he told reporters, adding that the whole process of selection was unprofessional.

Tusevljak, without party membership, must return to parliament for a vote on the full cabinet of six ministries, one of which will be held by him. No date has been set.

The chair rotates among ministers every eight months.

Bosnia, made up of the Moslem-Croat federation and the Serb republic, has been without central government since February, when a Constitutional Court ruling forced it to dissolve.

The central institutions have only a limited role. The new Council of Ministers will oversee policy areas including foreign affairs, trade, human rights and the state treasury.

The international community, which is sponsoring Bosnia's recovery from the 1992-95 war with billions of dollars, sees stronger central government as the key to economic revival.

Tusevljak was a pre-war resident of Sarajevo but fled to the Serb territory and later to Belgrade after war broke out. He now lectures in economics at the university in the Serb part of Sarajevo.

Sarajevo media reported last month that he was an economic adviser early in the conflict to Bosnian Serb wartime leader Karadzic, who is now in hiding. Petritsch said he would keep the presidency and the parliament accountable for their decisions. He criticized Tusevljak for saying on Tuesday that Bosnia should progress slowly, calling his remarks "simply unacceptable to me".

"We need to speed up the process of the implementation, not to slow it down," he said.

A previous candidate to chair the central government, former Bosnian Serb Deputy Prime Minister Tihomir Gligoric, lost the support of the presidency after Western officials complained that his Socialist party was too close to Belgrade.

Original article