Bosnian Serb leader, Milorad Dodik, has misjudged how powerful he truly is and the opposition in Bosnia’s Serb-majority region, Republika Srpska (RS), is doing a good job in deconstructing the myth of his authority, former presidency member, Mladen Ivanic, told N1 on Wednesday.
“‘I am the state, I am the RS,’ is his concept,” Ivanic said about the Serb member of Bosnia’s tripartite presidency who has been the leading Bosnian Serb politician for some two decades.
The RS opposition, among which is Ivanic’s Party for Democratic Progress (PDP), has often accused Dodik of autocracy for the way he runs the semi-autonomous region.
“As long as citizens do not realize that this is humiliating them, he will be able to proceed like this,” Ivanic said.
“I know people are resisting him in certain areas and that resistance is very strong,” he added.
The opposition is doing a good job lately in deconstructing that narrative of Dodik’s authority, he said.
“The further away Dodik is, the more popular he is. I think that he is the most popular among Serbs in Australia,” Ivanic said, arguing that in fact Dodik is powerless in joint institutions in Sarajevo.
He said that the Bosnian Serb leader is being ridiculed over his recent wiretapping statement, adding that he never heard of any other president in the world saying something similar.
At a session of the RS parliament last week, Dodik said he was wiretapping members of the opposition and that he knows what they are up to. He explained that every president is wiretapping the opposition.
“I listen to their phone conversations so I know. I have the right to listen to those. Once you are president, you will also have that right,” Dodik told opposition MPs.
Dodik’s claims caused a public uproar and opposition leaders, as well as representatives of Transparency International (TI), submitted criminal complaints against him.
A day later members of his party tried to downplay the statement, claiming he was not being serious when he said it. Dodik himself said he was only “teasing” the opposition.
“When he loses control, he says what he is actually thinking,” Ivanic said, adding that unauthorized wiretapping is a severe crime.
“If he is listening to conversations between two young MPs and talks about it openly, then I can’t understand how prosecutors have still not questioned him,” he said.
“I’m surprised by the mild reactions from international institutions, it’s simply unbelievable. He was not joking,” Ivanic stressed, arguing that there must be a reason why international institutions are “tolerating this.”
Ivanic said that although he served many top positions, including a member of the tripartite presidency, speaker of the upper house and RS prime minister, he was not invited to the RS public broadcaster (RTRS) since around 2005.
The former Presidency member also alleged that Dodik’s Alliance of Independent Social Democrats (SNSD) came to power through wide-scale election fraud.
“There were so many manipulations, fake ballots. We have proof of it. We know of a man who voted at six different polling stations, we even recorded him. No investigation was initiated,” he said.
“We will survive Dodik,” Ivanic concluded. “Other countries have also survived various autocrats. One day he will be the past, and he will retire.”