Tensions rise in fragile Bosnia as Serbs threaten to seek independence

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Bosnian Serb leaders have threatened to pull out of state institutions and are pressing anew for independence from Bosnia and Herzegovina, threatening to throw the fragile, multiethnic country into political crisis once again.

Analysts and observers of the region said the situation could unravel the United States-brokered Dayton accords of 1995, which ended a savage war that killed more than 100,000 people, most of them Muslims, between 1992 and 1995. The pact divided Bosnia and Herzegovina into a Muslim-Croat Federation and a Serb Republic, presided over by a decentralized political system that reinforced rather than healed ethnic divisions.

The crisis comes at a critical time, just a few weeks after the United Nations and European Union envoy to Bosnia, Miroslav Lajcak, was appointed foreign minister of his native Slovakia, creating what analysts called a potentially dangerous power vacuum. United Nations officials stressed Tuesday that Lajcak would continue to exercise his powers until a replacement was found.

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