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Izetbegovic Hospitalized With Heart Problems

February 22, 1996

SARAJEVO, Bosnia-Herzegovina (AP) _ President Alija Izetbegovic was rushed to the hospital this morning with heart problems and his colleagues held an emergency meeting to decide who would be in charge while he is sick.

A terse statement from the president’s office said only Izetbegovic, 70, suffered sudden cardiac problems and that he was taken to the hospital for examination and treatment.

The president was in stable condition, but will have to remain in hospital, said Ismet Grbo, a spokesman for Izetbegovic’s ruling Party for Democratic Action. He did not say how long Izetbegovic would have to remain there.

Bosnia’s collective presidency, which is headed by Izetbegovic, convened an emergency session to decide who should be in charge while he is hospitalized, indicating his condition could be serious.

In the past, Izetbegovic has made clear that he would like his vice-president and close ally, Ejup Ganic, to take over his duties if he were ever hindered.

Sources in the governing party said Izetbegovic suffered a heart attack during Bosnia’s war. A source in the Swedish Foreign Ministry who travels frequently to Sarajevo said on condition of anonymity that Izetbegovic has ``not been well for a year″ and that his heart ``is not well.″

Izetbegovic was to have met today with visiting Swedish Foreign Minister Lena Hjelm-Wallen.

Izetbegovic was elected president of Bosnia in 1990. He reluctantly declared support for an independent Bosnia after Slovenia, Croatia and Macedonia seceded from the Yugoslav federation.

Dominant Muslims and Croats voted in favor of independence in early 1992, sparking a rebellion by Bosnia’s Serbs who wanted to remain in Serb-led Yugoslavia.

That sparked a war that lasted nearly four years. At least 200,000 people are dead or missing and more than 2 million were made homeless.

Late last year, Izetbegovic and the presidents of Croatia and Serbia signed a U.S.-brokered peace accord that divides Bosnia roughly in half between a Muslim-Croat federation and a Serb republic.

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