Tension rises as Sarajevo Serbs await transfer of power

 

TENSION rose in Serb areas of Sarajevo yesterday as the time approached for them to be handed over to Muslim Croat police control. The atmosphere was also strained in the divided city of Mostar as it took hesitant steps towards reunification.

Serb pleas for help in evacuating the northern Sarajevo suburb of Vogosca went unanswered for a second day, just 48 hours before Muslim Croat federation police were due to begin patrolling the area.

In Washington, US Secretary of State Mr Warren Christopher appealed to the Serbs to remain where they were. "I hope that many of the Serbs will remain in Sarajevo, especially those who had long standing residences in Sarajevo," he told reporters.

About 150 desperate Vogosca residents, many of them weeping women, jammed a town meeting room to demand information and aid from the mayor and UN police on the scene. Vogosca is one of five Sarajevo suburbs to be handed over by Bosnian Serbs to Muslim Croat control under the Dayton peace accord.

Residents found out on Monday that Muslim Croat police would begin patrolling Vogosca tomorrow, causing panic among many who fear reprisals for the 43 month Serb siege of Sarajevo.

Mostar's Croats and Muslims fought a vicious 10 month war for control of the city in 1993. After the fighting stopped in early 1994, a federation was formed and Mostar placed under European Union administration.

A successful reunification of the historic city is essential to the future of the uneasy MuslimCroat federation, which in turn is a cornerstone of last November's Dayton peace accords aimed at ending nearly four years of war in Bosnia.