milorad dodik.jpg
President of Bosnia's Serb entity, Milorad Dodik
Photograph: HINA/ Mario STRMOTIĆ/ ik

The last formal obstacles to a referendum which would bring into question the implementation of decisions of the Bosnian Constitutional Court have been removed and it will be held on September 25 as planned, the president of Bosnia's Serb entity, Milorad Dodik, said on Thursday.

He said that after the entity's Constitutional Court dismissed a motion by Bosniak MPs in the entity parliament to annul a decision on the referendum, all legal prerequisites existed for the vote that is contentious for Croats and Bosniaks as well as for representatives of the international community in Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH).

"We are embarking on official preparations for the referendum," Dodik said.

The Serb entity's parliament adopted the decision to hold the vote in July, without the participation of Croat and Bosniak deputies. Voters registered in the entity, Republika Srpska (RS), are expected to say whether they are in favour of continuing to observe January 9 as RS Day.

The BiH Constitutional Court earlier this year ruled that the said observance was unconstitutional because it recalled 9 January 1992, when some Serb members of the Bosnian parliament adopted an unlawful decision proclaiming "a republic of the Serb people in BiH." The decision led to the war in the country and the Constitutional Court found that the marking of January 9 breached the rights of Croats and Bosniaks in RS.

Under the Dayton peace agreement, BiH Constitutional Court decisions are final and binding but, with the referendum, RS authorities decided to contest the Court's authority. The international community's High Representative to BiH, Valentin Inzko, has said that RS authorities are directly in breach of the agreement and that this is unacceptable as it jeopardises peace and stability in the country.

Announcements of the referendum have also been condemned by the other Bosnian entity, the Croat-Bosniak Federation.

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