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Bosnian Serb Military Commander Still Refuses to Step Down

November 20, 1996

PALE, Bosnia-Herzegovina (AP) _ Gen. Ratko Mladic, indicted for war crimes, still refuses to step down as military commander, his aides said Tuesday, despite claims by the Bosnian Serb president that he has agreed to give up power.

President Biljana Plavsic fired Mladic and his senior aides weeks ago, saying that Mladic’s two indictments by the U.N. war crimes tribunal made him unacceptable abroad. Refusing to give up power, he and his supporters have retreated to their stronghold northeast of Sarajevo, setting up checkpoints and temporarily detaining people, including top officials.

After meeting with the aides Monday, Plavsic’s office issued a brief statement on state-run TV saying the military shift would happen soon. But in a statement faxed to The Associated Press in Belgrade, the rebellious generals denied they had agreed to the details of their resignations.

``Any attempt at a forceful removal would be met by force,″ the generals’ statement warned.

The statement said they and Plavsic agreed only that she should meet Mladic on Wednesday for more talks, and that Plavsic did not accept their unspecified proposals.

Last week, Mladic’s chief of staff, Gen. Manojlo Milovanovic, said Mladic would step down if he could choose his successor. Plavsic named Gen. Pero Colic, a virtual unknown, to replace Mladic when she fired him last month.

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