Protesters denounce Bosnian Serb leaders, claim corruption

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People gather for a protest against the government in Banja Luka, in Serb-dominated part of Bosnia, Saturday, Oct. 2, 2021. Several thousand people have rallied against the government in Serb-dominated part of Bosnia. The protesters on Saturday accused the ruling party of nationalist leader Milorad Dodik of crime and corruption and called for its ouster. (AP Photo/Radivoje Pavicic)

BANJA LUKA, Bosnia-Herzegovina (AP) — Several thousand people rallied Saturday in Bosnia against the government in Serb-dominated part of the Balkan nation.

The protesters accused the ruling party of nationalist leader Milorad Dodik of crime and corruption, including in the procurement of ventilators and other equipment during the coronavirus pandemic.

No incidents were reported at the rally held at the central square in the northwest town of Banja Luka.

The town’s mayor, Drasko Stanivukovic, who is an opposition leader, said “we are launching a struggle against the private state!”

“This is not a protest, this is an uprising!” he said.

The opposition in the Serb part of Bosnia have accused the government of curbing media freedoms and democracy in the entity that comprises nearly half of the country. They demanded replacement of the health minister and hospital managers in the entity over alleged corruption.

The Bosnian Serb entity, called Republika Srpska, and the Bosniak-Croat one were formed after the 1992-95 war that left more than 100,000 people dead and millions displaced.

Dodik has insisted on trying to separate the Serb-run part of Bosnia from the rest of the country. The pro-Russian Serb leader is also a member of the multi-ethnic Bosnian presidency.

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