Dodik sets sights on Bosnian Presidency Post

Balkan Insight
Publication date: 
Feb 16 2018

The combative President of Republika Srpska, Milorad Dodik, has confirmed that he wants the Serbian seat on Bosnia's state presidency – and that, if he wins, he will not work out of Sarajevo but will only communicate with his colleagues via video link.

Republika Srpska (RS) President Milorad Dodik confirmed on Thursday that he will be a candidate for the elections to the three-member state presidency of Bosnia this autumn.

He was speaking to the RS news agency SRNA after meeting Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic in Belgrade, where he attended celebrations marking Serbia's statehood day. He used the opportunity to present Vucic with the Order of the Republika Srpska, given "for special merits in developing and strengthening cooperation and political relations between Serbia and the RS."

For some time, the media have speculated that Dodik would be a candidate for the Bosnian presidency because by law he cannot run again for the presidency of Republika Srpska since he has already held that post twice. Dodik himself told a TV station in Bosnia a few days ago that, "everything was leading towards candidacy for the [state] presidency".

He also stated that, if he is elected as the Serbian member, he will not work in the capital, Sarajevo, but in Eastern Sarajevo, a separate municipality in the RS – and will only attend meetings of the Presidency through a video link. He also said he would work to cut the size of the Bosnian army from 16,000 staff to only 3,500. Of the current number, 10,000 are active military personnel, 1,000 are civilian personnel and 5,000 are members of the reserve force.

Political analyst Srdjan Puhalo told BIRN that Dodik's candidacy was not a surprise, and it was only a matter of time before it was announced.

“However, if he wins in the elections, it will be interesting to see how he behaves in that role, as he has stated several times that, for him, Bosnia is an impossible country,” Puhalo said.

Sasa Magazinovic, a deputy in Bosnia's state parliament from the Social Democratic Party, SDP, said Dodik's candidacy was an example of his lack of principles.

"It's the only position he can run for, and as time passes, he will have to change his rhetoric, because he knows that – with that rhetoric – he cannot win in that race," Magazinovic said.

Dodik will likely stand as head of a coalition made up of his own party, the Alliance of the Independent Social Democrats, SNSD, the Democratic People's Alliance, DNS, and the Socialist Party, SP. The three parties are in power in the RS.

It is still unclear who will run against Dodik for the Serbian post on the state presidency. Mladen Ivanic, the current member, will be a candidate in the October elections for the RS opposition bloc, gathered in the Alliance for Changes. But it is not clear whether Ivanic will run for the state presidency or for the presidency of the RS.

Two other opposition names are also under discussion – both from the Serbian Democratic Party, SDS, the main opposition party in the RS.They are Mirko Sarovic, Bosnia's Minister of Foreign Trade and Economic Relations and Vukota Govedarica, a deputy in the RS assembly and president of the SDS.

Opposition circles say Dodik's candidacy is exactly what they wanted. "That's what we want, to beat him in the race for the presidency and finally send him into political retirement," Branislav Borenovic, head of the Party of Democratic Progress, PDP, told the media.

Danijel Kovacevic, Banja Luka