Western envoy removes two senior Bosnian officials

SARAJEVO, Jul 29, 2000 -- (Reuters) Western peace coordinator Wolfgang Petritsch has dismissed two senior Bosnian Moslem officials from their posts, accusing them of impeding reforms since the 1992-1995 conflict.

He sacked the agriculture minister and a top tax officer, highlighting the West's determination to deal more robustly with Bosnian leaders seen as obstructing efforts to cement peace in the Balkan country.

The dismissals of Agriculture Minister Ahmed Smajic of Bosnia's Moslem-Croat federation and tax administration chief Ramiz Dzaferovic were announced in a statement by Petritsch's office late on Thursday.

"As Minister, Mr Smajic impeded the economic reform effort in Bosnia and Herzegovina and development of transparency in all aspects of the work of his ministry through obstruction, continued inaction and corrupt practice," the statement said.

"As director of the federation tax administration, Mr Dzaferovic, through acts of personal misconduct, impeded the economic reform effort," it added.

"His actions also endangered the democratization process in Bosnia and Herzegovina and the measures taken to combat corruption and abuse of office," it said.

Dzaferovic is also a member of the management board of the Bosnian payment bureau, a socialist-era institution which until recently had a monopoly on all internal payment transactions.

Petritsch, the international community's High Representative to Bosnia, has sweeping powers to implement the 1995 Dayton peace accord, including the right to fire officials and impose legislation.

Since he took over the job last year, he has removed a series of officials of all three ethnic groups - Serbs, Moslems and Croats.

The international community, which has poured billions of dollars in the reconstruction of the Balkan country, is becoming increasingly impatient with the slow pace in introducing free market reforms.

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank urged this week Bosnian authorities to fight tax evasion and fraud, alleging that they caused a revenue loss of some 500 million marka ($238 million).

Post-war Bosnia comprises two highly autonomous territories - the federation and the Serb republic.

Original article