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Mladic Deputy Says Old Commanders Still in Charge

November 11, 1996

BELGRADE, Yugoslavia (AP) _ A prominent officer in the Bosnian Serb army said today that dismissed commanders, including Gen. Ratko Mladic, were still in charge.

Gen. Milan Gvero was sacked Saturday by Bosnian Serb President Biljana Plavsic along with Mladic, who has been indicted by a U.N. tribunal on charges of orchestrating massacres in the 3 1/2-year Bosnian war.

``Not a single army unit, not a single officer supports this move,″ Gvero said. ``A parallel central command has been created.″

In a telephone interview from Mladic’s headquarters, he called the dismissal ``a dangerous attempt to create discord among the Serb people.″

Plavsic, the president, said international opposition to Mladic made it impossible for him to remain.

Mladic was replaced by Gen. Pero Colic, a virtual unknown. The man named as Colic’s deputy, Gen. Dragan Josipovic, is known only as a local commander.

However, NATO commanders in Bosnia will continue to deal with Gen. Zdravko Tolimir, another Mladic deputy in charge of military intelligence, until the results of the power struggle in the Serb-controlled half of the country become clear, NATO officials said today.

``We are dealing with Tolimir until such a time that we are 100 percent sure about what exactly is going on,″ NATO spokesman Maj. Thomas Moyer said.

Moyer spoke after a meeting between Lt. Gen. Sir Michael Walker, the commander of NATO ground troops in Bosnia, and Tolimir.

Moyer said that as far as NATO was concerned, ``Tolimir has not been sacked. We recognize him.″

Plavsic herself rose to power after Radovan Karadzic, was indicted on war crimes charges and forced to step down as the Bosnian Serb political leader.

Mladic has been indicted twice by the U.N. war crimes tribunal in The Hague, Netherlands, and has long had differences with the Serbs’ civilian leadership.

While Karadzic’s popularity has had its ups and downs, Mladic is considered a hero by many Bosnian Serbs. However, his health is reported to be in decline, and he rarely has been seen in public in recent months.

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