State of emergency invoked in Banja Luka ahead of protest rallies

A state of emergency will be invoked in Banja Luka, the largest city in the Serb-controlled entity of Bosnia and Herzegovina on Friday midnight  in anticipation of a protest rally to be staged on Saturday by the Opposition and a counter-rally to be organised by followers of Milorad Dodik, the Serb entity's president.

A special crisis management team set up by the law enforcement authorities in Banja Luka decided to impose a state of emergency which includes a ban on the work of all cafes and restaurants and on the sale of alcoholic beverages in shops on Saturday.

The entity's Interior Minister Dragan Lukac claims that there are indications that the protest rallies may turn violent and that ha has been provided with information of the arrival of radical groups from Serbia, Bosnia's other entity -- the  Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina -- and also from Croatia.

Lukac said on Friday said that about 2,000 police officers would be engaged and that they would be prepared to "respond if they are attacked".

The claims about the arrival of radical groups have prompted Bosnia and Herzegovina's Interior Minister Dragan Mektic to discard them as incorrect.

"Let them say who are those groups," Mektic said at a press conference on Friday.

He explained that those rumours were aimed at intimidating those who want to join protesters against the Dodik rule.

"I call on people to come and show in a dignified manner what they think," Mektic said.

The Serbian Orthodox dignitary, Patriarch Irinej, called on both political camps to drop plans about the protests and cancel rallies.

Last update: Fri, 13/05/2016 - 13:58

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