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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Bosnian Serbs Say No to Plan

PALE, Bosnia -- More than 90 percent of Bosnian Serb voters rejected an international peace plan in a referendum that attracted heavy voter turnout, an election commission chief said Monday.


"According to almost half of the votes counted by Monday noon, the turnout was more than 90 percent. More than 90 percent voted against the map," Petko Cancar said, citing unofficial results.


He said the official results will be known by Tuesday evening and the Bosnian Serb parliament would meet within a "day or two" to ratify the decision in the Serb stronghold of Pale, outside Sarajevo.


"The Serb people reached a turning point this weekend but it is no accident that they had voted to reject the map. Their vote will be the guideline for the future behavior of the country's political leadership," Cancar said.


Fears deepened that the 28-month Bosnian war that has already left 200,000 dead or missing would turn even more violent with the defiant rejection.


The United States has warned that continued Bosnian Serb refusal to accept the plan could prompt the lifting of a U.N arms embargo on the Muslim-led government, handicapped by Serb weapons superiority.


The plan would reduce Serb holdings to 49 percent of Bosnia from the 70 percent they have seized. A federation of Bosnian Muslims and Croats, who have accepted the plan, would get 51 percent.


Bosnian Serb leaders say the division would leave them with an unviable state and prevent them from uniting with Serbia, the largest of two remaining republics in Yugoslavia. The quest for such a union was the reason they rebelled in April 1992 as Bosnia broke from the old Yugoslav federation.


Major powers have ignored the referendum, saying it amounted to a farce and another tactical move by the Bosnian Serb leadership.


Even neighboring Serbia branded it a crude attempt by Bosnian Serb leaders to foist responsibility for a bad decision onto ill-informed voters. The referendum marks the second time Bosnia's Serbs have been asked to vote on a peace plan. In May 1993, Bosnian Serb officials said 96 percent of 1.2 million voters rejected a plan that would have divided Bosnia into 10 cantons.


But Cancar said major powers must take the referendum result into account.


"They must understand that the referendum results will play a crucial role in further developments in [Bosnia]," he said. "With this decision we are consolidating, defending and further developing our Republic of Srpska," he said.


Turnout in the Bosnian Serb army was 100 percent and soldiers had unanimously rejected the proposed division of Bosnia, he said.


(Reuters, AP)