The General Assembly of Republika Srpska (RS) -one of the entities of Bosnia-Herzegovina (BiH)- adopted an amendment backed by President Milorad Dodik on Wednesday to have a referendum on the authority of the State Court and Prosecutor’s Office of BiH.
Dodik accuses the Court of being biased against Orthodox Serbs, who share power in Bosnia with Muslim Bosniaks and Catholic Croats.
After two days of heated debate, 45 deputies voted in favour, none voted against, and 31 delegates abstained, while opposition MPs of the coalition "Homeland" left the assembly hall before the vote.
Now that the referendum has been approved, the day of the referendum should be determined within a week.
The referendum has still to pass the upper house of the regional parliament, where Muslim Bosniaks are expected to refer it to the Constitutional Court.
"But regardless of that, the referendum will be held because we regard Constitutional Court decisions as political rather than legal," said Dodik.
The referendum of Republika Srpska to challenge the legitimacy of the national court of Bosnia-Herzegovina is not supported by the international community.
The decision was passed only a day after the international community representatives in Bosnia, including top EU and US diplomats, warned Serb leaders that the proposed referendum would be "a direct threat to the sovereignty and security" of Bosnia that "cannot be tolerated."
The US embassy in Sarajevo posted a statement on its official Twitter account describing the referendum as a threat to the security, stability, and prosperity of BiH.
Alarmed at direction planned referendum is taking RS, and threat it poses to security, stability, prosperity of BiH http://t.co/VUzOErZqQU
— US Embassy Sarajevo (@USEmbassySJJ) July 15, 2015
The statement slams the referendum saying “We oppose this referendum and any preparation for it as a violation of the Dayton Peace Accords, and because we fear the repercussions it will have for the people in the RS and for BiH as a whole.”
“We are engaging relevant the US government departments and agencies to determine an appropriate response to those responsible for creating this political provocation,” the statement added.
The office of the High Representative in Bosnia and Herzegovina also posted a statement on its official Twitter account criticising the decision of RS noting that “Those supporting referendum against Dayton are pushing RS into isolation and crisis.”
— OHR BiH (@OHR_BiH) July 15, 2015
The President of the Bosniak caucus in the Republika Srpska Mujo Hadziomerovic confirmed that they will protect their vital national interest on the decision on a referendum in the RS on the State Court and the Prosecutor’s Office.
Hadziomerovic also pointed out that the Bosniak caucus will use all legal measures to challenge the decision on the referendum.
“Milorad Dodik, has begun the process for the consequences of which I'm not sure he's ready. There is no doubt that the decision was a call for war. For months I was saying that Dodik is ready to challenge the organized mass violence in order to preserve power," says Deputy Defence Minister of Bosnia-Herzegovina Emir Suljagic, B92 reported.