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Serb Socialists Quit Ruling Party

February 20, 2000

BANJA LUKA, Bosnia-Herzegovina (AP) _ The Serb Socialist Party quit the ruling coalition in the Serb half of Bosnia on Sunday, a move that weakens pro-Western Premier Milorad Dodik’s support in parliament.

The Socialists, Bosnian members of Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic’s party, announced their departure after Dodik fired two party officials.

Despite the change, Dodik’s coalition retains a slim majority in parliament and his government is in no immediate danger of falling.

In a statement Sunday, the Socialists blamed Dodik for the political turmoil. They said the party would ``independently perform its parliamentary function″ and would not join other coalitions.

Dodik, who left on Friday for Germany, was not available for comment.

Bosnia consists of two regions, the Serb Republic and the Moslem-Croat Federation, with separate governments and parliaments. The Socialist Party has been part of the moderate coalition in the Bosnian Serb half for more than two years.

But last month, Dodik removed Deputy Premier Tihomir Gligoric from his post because of activities deemed against the interest of the government. Dodik also fired Socialist Party official Dragutin Ilic, the head of the health insurance fund, for allegedly failing to inform the government about the fund’s business operations.

Socialist Party leaders recently gave Dodik seven days to withdraw the firings, but the prime minister said they were final.

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