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Bosnian Serb parliament approves bill easing referendum process

[JURIST] The National Assembly [official website, in Serbian] of the Bosnian Serb Republic, Republika Srpska, passed legislation [Serbian Voice report, in Serbian] Wednesday intended to ease the process of holding referendums. Initiatives passed using the method would be binding only in the Serbian region [RFE/RL report], but some believe that it may lead to a referendum on independence [BBC report]. Bosnian Serb Prime Minister Milorad Dodik indicated that he will utilize the referendum process to measure public support for the Dayton Accord [USDOS materials], which ended the Bosnian war. The US Embassy in Sarajevo warned [press release] that it would view any such referendum as "provocative," and cautioned against using the mechanism to "pursue a narrow political agenda."

Republika Srpska is one of two entities that comprise Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH). The Bosnian Constitution [text] was agreed to in 1995 as part of the Dayton Accord, ending the four-year civil war. It was designed to share power between the three majority ethnic groups - Serbs, Bosniaks, and Croats - but limits power for ethnic minorities. In December, the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) [official website] ruled that the constitution illegally discriminates against ethnic minorities [JURIST report] by not allowing them to run for high political office. BiH reached an agreement with the European Union in 2008 to bring its constitution in line with the European Convention on Human Rights.

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