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UN council rejects Russian bid to get rid of Bosnia high rep

UNITED NATIONS (AP) — The U.N. Security Council on Thursday rejected a resolution put forward by Russia and China that would have immediately stripped the powers of the international high representative overseeing implementation of the 1995 peace agreement that ended the devastating war in Bosnia, and eliminated the position entirely in one year.

The draft resolution failed to get the minimum nine “yes” votes for adoption. The vote was 2-0 with only Russia and China voting “yes” and the 13 other council members abstaining.

The rejected resolution stated that the powers given to the high representative at a conference on implementing the Dayton peace agreement in 1997 “are no longer required given the progress achieved by the Bosnian parties.” It supported the appointment of High Representative Christian Schmidt of Germany “until July 31, 2022, with closure of the Office of the High Representative.”

Before the vote, Russia’s deputy U.N. ambassador Dmitry Polyansky accused the high representative of becoming like “a czar” with “almost post-colonial type“ of powers, and said the choice of Schmidt is not legitimate without Security Council approval.

The U.S.-brokered Dayton peace agreement, which ended the 1992-95 war after more than 100,000 people died, established two separate entities in Bosnia — one run by Bosnia’s Serbs and another one dominated by the country’s Bosniaks, who are mostly Muslims, and Croats.

The high representative’s powers have come under criticism from Bosnian Serbs, who have close ties to Russia, for not offering the possibility of appealing his decisions, which have immediate effect. The Office of the High Representative has dismissed scores of officials, including judges, civil servants, and members of parliament since its inception.

Russia disagreed with the appointment of Schmidt and has long requested that the post of high representative be abolished.

Schmidt was formally appointed as the next high representative on May 27 by the 10-member Steering Board of the 55-member Peace Implementation Council, the international body guiding Bosnia’s peace process.
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