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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Karadzic to Step Down, Keep Party Role

SARAJEVO -- Radovan Karadzic, indicted for war crimes, will resign as Bosnian Serb "president" within days but retain power as head of the Serb Democratic Party that controls his government, Bosnian Serb sources said.


The sources, who insisted on anonymity, said Sunday the Serb Democratic Party, or SDS, would announce Karadzic's replacement by "foreign minister" Aleksa Buha "sometime this week."


But Buha, speaking to an independent Belgrade television station BK TV, called the reports "journalists' speculation."


"The presidential candidate and head of the SDS election list will be made public after the SDS congress on June 27 and 28 in Pale," he told the station.


If Karadzic does quit, the departure of the man indicted by the United Nations as a war criminal will be a mainly symbolic victory for U.S.-led Western mediators, who have been calling for his ouster for months.


The sources said he would remain the chief power broker in the Bosnian Serb republic and was no closer to being surrendered for trial at the UN war crimes court in The Hague.


"Karadzic will step down and run the [SDS]," one said.


SDS leaders agreed to the reshuffle at a caucus Friday which also decided Buha would top the party's list of candidates for September elections to rebuild interethnic democracy in Bosnia.


There was no official comment on the changes from SDS officials in Pale, the Bosnian Serb government seat outside Sarajevo.


Buha is a Karadzic loyalist who will be a figleaf for SDS hardliners opposed to the Bosnian peace agreement that binds the Serb half of the country with a Moslem-Croat federation in a loose union.


The anonymous sources said the SDS leadership was pressured to do something by Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic, who had been threatened with renewed international sanctions if Karadzic stayed as Bosnian Serb "president."