Parties agree to oust local government in Sarajevo

Source: N1

Two of the six parties which formed the ruling coalition in Canton Sarajevo have reached on Friday an agreement with the country’s main Bosniak Party to oust the local government and form a new one.

Following the October 2018 election, the liberal ‘Nasa Stranka’, the left-leaning Social Democratic Party (SDP), the Democratic Front (DF), the Union for a Better Future (SBB), the Truth and Justice Party (NiP) and the Independent Bosnian-Herzegovinian List (NLB), formed a government in the capital which was dubbed ‘the Six’ and which some foreign officials hailed as a positive development in Bosnian politics.

“As a new generation of political leaders emerge at the cantonal and municipal levels, particularly in the Sarajevo Canton, there is reason to be hopeful,” the US State Department Special Envoy for the Western Balkans, Matthew Palmer, even told a US Senate Committee in late October.

But the slightly left-leaning local government was constantly being criticised by, above all, the Bosniak-oriented Party for Democratic Action (SDA).

Now, SDA leader Bakir Izetbegovic, DF leader Zeljko Komsic and SBB leader Fahrudin Radoncic have agreed that the Sarajevo Canton leadership must change.

While the SBB and the SDA have had an ongoing love-hate relationship for years, the DF is the party that faced the most criticism from the other parties in the still-ruling coalition.

The DF was, together with Nasa Stranka and the SDP, part of a coalition under the name ‘BH Bloc’ before the 2018 election, which pledged it would never enter a coalition with any right-wing parties.

But after the election, the DF entered the state-level government together with the three main ethnic parties in the country – the SDA, the Croat Democratic Union (HDZ) and the Serb Alliance of Independent Social Democrats (SNSD).

That created a rift in the BH Bloc.

The leader of Nasa Stranka, Predrag Kojovic, said on Friday that the new agreement which the SDA, the SBB and the DF reached is two and a half pages long.

“Our agreement of the so-called ‘Six’ had 20 pages and contained 300 measures, laws, and a lot of them were implemented throughout this year. Our coalition was called ‘the Six’, but I think that an adequate name for this new coalition could be – Friday the 13th,” Kojovic said, adding that Sarajevo’s citizens could notice the improvements in their living conditions during the most probably short-lived government.

The DF said in a statement that it supports the idea of a someone other than Nasa Stranka's Edin Forto serving as Sarajevo Canton's Prime Minister, arguing that Forto was focusing too much on his party’s interests.

“With that, the mistake of the current government, which did not have the wisdom or the political sensibility for that, was fixed,” the DF statement said.

NiP's Elmedin Konakovic told N1 he was surprised by the agreement.

“Radoncic’s move did not surprise me, I know him personally and it is not surprising. Komsic’s move did surprise me,” he said, adding that the SBB and the DF have “shown their true colours.”

The SDP said in a statement that the announcement that the Sarajevo Canton ruling coalition will be taken down “is a classic betrayal of the civic, leftist idea by the DF and Zeljko Komsic.”

“In Canton Sarajevo, there is no HDZ and no SNSD whom Komsic is building his policy upon for years. The only problem the DF had when it comes to Canton Sarajevo is the fact that the SDA was part of that government,” the party said.

SDA deputy leader Safet Softic told N1 on Friday that “The ‘Six’ is no more.”

“At today’s meeting, the formation of the government at the state and Sarajevo Canton level was agreed. According to this agreement, the Sarajevo Canton Government is no more,” Softic said.

“They can say whatever they want to say about it. They had a year to show what they can do. Their mandate is over and I think it is time to establish a new government,” he added.

Softic said that the SDA was the party which won most of the votes in 2018 in the Canton and that it would have been natural that this party forms the government.

“Back then, the hysteria of removing the SDA from all levels of government emerged. That, unfortunately, succeeded in Canton Sarajevo, and I must say, with the help from part of the international community,” Softic said.

He said that the DF and the SBB have been expressing dissatisfaction with the Canton Sarajevo government from the start of the mandate.