Serbs Protest Sarajevo’s Unification
Carrying banners and signs, thousands of Serbs marched Wednesday to protest the unification of Sarajevo, the most contentious issue in the Bosnian peace plan.
The Bosnian government tried to reassure them that they will be safe, welcome and better off in a united city.
Meanwhile in Belgrade, Yugoslavia, President Slobodan Milosevic purged nationalist hard-liners from the leadership of his ruling Socialist Party in anticipation of Serbia’s postwar economic and political revival, newspapers reported Wednesday.
Milosevic’s purge of three top party leaders rids him of baggage from his nationalist past and possible opposition to his plans for Serbia’s future political direction. Milosevic replaced the three dismissed officials with loyalists who backed his withdrawal of support for the armed Serb rebellions in Croatia and Bosnia.
As NATO prepared to dispatch up to 60,000 troops to Bosnia to police a peace deal secured last week, European Union envoy Carl Bildt arrived in Sarajevo to press local leaders to ease residents’ fears.
The issue of Sarajevo, divided since war began in 1992, could make or break the entire peace plan.
Sarajevo Serbs have been protesting for days in Serb-held districts, fearing that they might be forced to leave if the entire city is put under the control of their enemies. They believe that they were sold out by Milosevic, who negotiated the deal in Dayton, Ohio, on behalf of the Bosnian Serbs.