After having lost the election in Banja Luka, the administrative centre of the Bosnia’s Serb-majority entity of Republika Srpska (RS), the party of Bosnian Serb leader Milorad Dodik announced late on Monday it will freeze all entity government investments into the city because it voted against its candidate.
“We will stop all investments from the RS Government level until we see how the city will politically develop,” said Milorad Dodik, the leader of the Alliance of Independent Social Democrats (SNSD), after his candidate, the incumbent mayor Igor Radojcic, lost Sunday’s local election to opposition leader Drasko Stanivukovic.
“I will not forgive them for what they have done to Igor,” Dodik said of voters in Banja Luka. “This is not a threat, this is my personal stance. It’s my right,” he declared.
He said his party carefully wrote down all the promises Stanivukovic made during the campaign and he expects him to fulfil them.
Members of Dodik’s party in the City Assembly will not initiate a motion to remove the mayor, at least not this year.
“They have tarnished the relations so much that no proposal for any new mayor will be supported,” Dodik declared.
Stanivukovic had announced that he will advocate for students and pensioners in Banja Luka to use public transportation for free and Dodik said his party will support such a decision, “but let’s first see how he plans to finance it.”
“Let’s see how he plans to subsidise city heating which we have been financing for years. Why would we do that now, we also have other municipalities that need help with heating,” he said.
Commenting on Dodik’s hints that the SNSD majority in the City Assembly will undermine every proposal the new mayor submits and that Banja Luka residents could be left without subsidies for heating costs and all investments, Stanivukovic said those were all expressions of Dodik’s fear and that he is sorry the ruling option keeps humiliating residents and political opponents.
"I thank all the citizens and Banja Luka who participated in the democratic act in which we responded to the key principle of democracy, the change of government,” Stanivukovic said.
He said that he will advocate for love, understanding and open-mindedness, while his political opponents advocate for power, coercion, blackmail and torture.
“Banja Luka has defined this as a sinking and losing policy and this is a sign they will in two years face a political fiasco again,” Stanivukovic said, referring to the general election in 2022.
"However, my message is different and I am addressing you as the mayor of all citizens and I want to be clear and say that we are exiting the zone of political bickering because that’s not going to improve our lives,” he said.
He urged all political actors to choose the best people into the city’s administration, regardless of which party they belong to.
"I don’t need an assembly majority as the current mayor does. I need the best people Banja Luka can offer. We need experts, knowledge and people ready and able to to work,” he said.
Stanivukovic announced that the SNSD is afraid of his first move as mayor - the revision of all city administration contracts.
“Our duty is to move forward and keep all hard-working and honest people while revealing all those who worked illegally and dishonestly. We are building a city without divisions in which everybody will live well,” Stanivukovic concluded.