Bosnian Serb leader Milorad Dodik said on Tuesday that his party will continue to implement all the projects it started in the city of Banja Luka, a day after he announced that the government of Bosnia’s Republika Srpska (RS) entity would freeze all investments into the city because of the election of opposition candidate Drasko Stanivukovic to the post of mayor.
"We will enjoy it when anyone comes from the outside to tell us that we have a beautiful city, that it is clean, tidy. We will continue to work on that which is our responsibility. If the new mayor cancels the cleaning contracts, that is his competency, not ours,” said Dodik, the Serb member of Bosnia’s tripartite Presidency and the leader of the ruling party in the RS, the Alliance of Independent Social Democrats (SNSD).
After the SNSD lost the mayoral election in Banja Luka, the administrative centre of the RS, Dodik announced on Monday that his party would freeze all entity government investments into the city.
“We will stop all investments from the RS Government level until we see how the city will politically develop,” Dodik said after the incumbent mayor Igor Radojcic lost to opposition candidate Drasko Stanivukovic.
“I will not forgive them for what they have done to Igor,” Dodik said, adding that his party carefully wrote down all the promises Stanivukovic made during the campaign and expects the new mayor to fulfil them. “They have tarnished the relations so much that no proposal for any new mayor will be supported,” he declared.
On Tuesday, the Bosnian Serb leader praised what the SNSD has done in Banja Luka and argued that the opposition had a “method” to achieve what it wanted to achieve and that the process was legitimate.
“But I also have the right to say what I think. I am not a hypocritical politician who would dogmatically come out and start saying something else,” he said.
Dodik said that he discussed some projects and investments regarding Banja Luka with Radojicic.
He stressed that the SNSD will continue to work on the projects it started in the city but that Stanivukovic has a right to his own programme.
“I congratulated him and said that he can freely implement his programme but that he does not have our support. That is completely normal, as everywhere else in the world. We did not have his support and he will not have ours,” the Bosnian Serb leader said.
Dodik told the Kurir newspaper that his party has the majority in the assembly and decides on “everything.”
“In that sense, if his (the mayor’s) proposals correspond with our proposals, of course, I don't think they will be rejected, but we will surely not be ready to support some of his ideas,” he said.
Among the policies that Stanivukovic mentioned he would advocate for is providing students and pensioners with free public transportation and subventions to Banja Luka citizens for heating.
Dodik said that this is within the competencies of the local communities and that it has been a problem in the city for a long time.
“We will see how the new mayor thinks he can solve this issue because he does not have enough funds that are being collected from the citizens nor is there enough in the budget. The Government of Republika Srpska has until now been helping regarding this issue,” Dodik explained.
He said that the RS Government will continue to behave in this manner but argued that he does not know what Stanivukovic’s proposal to resolve the issue is exactly.
“The mayor did win and I respect the democratic will, but the decision on everything that happens in the city belongs to the coalition that was established in the parliamentary majority,” he said.
Dodik said that he has no problem with the mayor earmarking 50 million Bosnian Marks from a total of 120 million Bosnian Marks in the budget to resolve the issues he mentioned in his campaign.
“I have no problem with that, but I must see how he plans to pay for this," Dodik said, adding, "I would love it if nobody would have to pay anything and for everyone to have 10,000 Bosnian Marks daily, to get that money from somewhere and to live a comfortable life and not have any problems. But the reality is different."
The SNSD leader stressed that he loves Banja Luka, that he was born in the city and that everything he did so far was for the benefit of Banja Luka and Republika Srpska.
"The defeat of the mayor was difficult for me, I don’t hide that. Igor Radojcic was not a man who could be accused of anything, no corruption, no crime or anything else. He had very strong plans to build a concert hall in Banja Luka, to build two bridges across the Vrbas river, construction on one of them has started already, all of this will be the priority of the new mayor and he relies on the funds of the RS (entity level), and if he says that he does not need a concert hall, we can not build it when we are not in charge of it. That was the point of everything I said, and not something else,” Dodik stressed.
The SNSD has won in Banja Luka as the strongest party but it lost the post of the mayor because some coalition partners were not honest and behaved differently than was agreed on election day, Dodik said.
“We have determined that some coalition partners had traded in votes,” Dodik said, adding that the SNSD would never forgive them for this.