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Bosnian Serb party ousts Plavsic as leader

BANJA LUKA, Jun 5, 2000 -- (Reuters) Former Bosnian Serb president Biljana Plavsic was ousted as leader of the Serb People's Alliance (SNS) in a no-confidence vote, a radio report from the Republika Srpska (RS) said.

Party delegates voted to remove her as party president by 129 votes to 105 late Saturday, then 170 of them voted to replace her with Dragon Kostic.

Among those who voted against Plavsic were the party's four ministers in the ruling Sloga coalition in the RS, the Serb entity of Bosnia-Herzegovina, said the radio report.

Most of the party's 11 deputies also voted against her.

Leaving the party assembly on Saturday, Plavsic said she still considered herself the party's president.

Kostic said he would follow the same moderate line Plavsic had pursued.

Plavsic's defeat had mainly been a question of personality, he said. She had lost the confidence of members of the party, he added.

Last month, Plavsic threatened to quit her party after failing to get backing to oust vice-president Jovan Mitrovic.

In an interview with Nezavisne Novine newspaper she accused Mitrovic of trying to pull the party away from its moderate position back to hardline policies that reflected the policies of neighboring Serbia.

Mitrovic and the regime of Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic were seeking to pull the SNS out of the moderate Sloga coalition in order to "destroy the government" in the RS, she said.

The alliance's partner in the coalition is the Independent Social Democrat party of RS Prime Minister Milorad Dodik, which backs the anti-Milosevic opposition in neighboring Serbia.

Plavsic said then that if this weekend's party assembly also backed the vice-president she would quit the SNS.

Her position had already been weakened however by the party's poor showing in the April 8 local elections. At the time she had offered her resignation but then reconsidered.

Plavsic was once a top aide to the Bosnian Serb wartime leader, Radovan Karadzic, who is wanted by the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) on war crimes charges.

She succeeded him as president of the Republika Srpska in 1996 following the end of the 1992-1995 Bosnian war.

She later dropped her ultra-nationalist ideas and promoted cooperation between Bosnian Serbs and the international community.

Although Plavsic is not officially wanted for trial by the ICTY, many Serbs believe she may have been secretly indicted by the court due to her past relations with Karadzic.

On Wednesday, a spokesman for the NATO-led Stabilization Force in Bosnia (SFOR) denied claims by Bosnian Serbs that its troops were blocked by local police after they tried to force their way into Plavsic's home.

A spokesman for the SNS also denied there had been an SFOR bid to arrest Plavsic.



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