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Karadzic Backers Kick Out President Her Cooperation With West Brings Enmity Of Party, Army

Los Angeles Times

Bosnian Serb President Biljana Plavsic lost another round Sunday in her power struggle with indicted war crimes suspect Radovan Karadzic and was expelled from the nationalistic party the two of them helped found.

In an overnight executive session, Plavsic was dumped by the proKaradzic hard-liners who control the Serbian Democratic Party, or SDS, after she threatened to arrest Karadzic on embezzlement charges.

She does not lose her post as president of the Bosnian Serb ministate known as Republika Srpska - not yet, at least - but is further weakened politically in a no-holds-barred quest to extend her power and curtail Karadzic’s.

After expelling Plavsic, the party leadership demanded she resign as president and transfer her duties to the vice president. Plavsic was elected as Karadzic’s successor in voting last September.

In another discouraging sign for Plavsic, the senior leadership of the Bosnian Serb army, which had earlier voiced nominal support for the president as commander in chief, announced it would no longer obey orders that harm the interests of the Serbian people.

The removal of Plavsic from the party came as a U.S. Embassy delegation met with senior Bosnian Serb leaders in their capital, Pale, to press for an end to harassment of the beleaguered president. Plavsic, one of the early leaders of the SDS after its creation in 1990, was long considered an even more ardent nationalist than Karadzic. But more recently she has emerged as one of the few Bosnian Serb leaders willing to cooperate with the West’s execution of peace accords.

Plavsic’s acrimonious battle with former ally Karadzic began last month when she publicly accused him of massive corruption. She said he was making a fortune through blackmarket smuggling while the rest of the impoverished mini-state languished.

Karadzic, wanted by the international war crimes tribunal at The Hague on charges of genocide, is barred from public political life. But he never relinquished control of any significant power. Most important, he continues to reign over state media and a well-armed paramilitary police force.

After her allegations, Karadzic’s supporters lashed out at Plavsic. On television she was accused of accepting bribes from U.S. envoys and of conspiring with the hated West.

The struggle escalated with a German magazine’s publication of an interview with Plavsic in which she announced she would arrest Karadzic on embezzlement charges and deploy the army to do it if she had to.

The Bosnian Serb Parliament already has voted to suspend Plavsic, but she answered that by issuing orders disbanding the Parliament. Serbs await a decision on the issue from their Constitutional Court, but it is seen as being obedient to Karadzic.

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