Politicking paralyzes divided Bosnian town of Mostar

Tue Feb 5, 2013 9:38am EST
Email This Article |
Share This Article
  • Facebook
  • LinkedIn
  • Twitter
| Print This Article | Single Page
[-] Text [+]

By Daria Sito-Sucic

MOSTAR, Bosnia (Reuters) - The scene was almost reminiscent of the war: Bosnian Senaid Repesa, tired and toothless, stood in line in the bitterly cold hallway of a former army barracks, now a soup kitchen.

Like him, almost 600 residents of the southern Bosnian town of Mostar depend on its two public kitchens for a warm meal and a loaf of bread each day.

"If it wasn't for this, we'd die of starvation," said Repesa, an unemployed veteran of Bosnia's 1992-95 conflict who lives with his two jobless brothers.

It's a lifeline that could be severed within weeks thanks to the town's feuding Muslim and Croat councilors.

Paralyzed by politicking, Mostar has entered 2013 without a budget to fund soup kitchens or kindergartens, pay fire-fighters or heat schools. As cash runs out, tensions are rising.

The fighting between Muslims, known as Bosniaks, and Croats in Mostar was some of the fiercest of the war and left them divided on the eastern and western banks of the River Neretva.

The accord that ended the conflict resulted in an unwieldy union of two autonomous regions - the Serb Republic and the mainly Bosniak and Croat Federation - run by a system of ethnic quotas that has stifled economic development and stalled the country's progress towards membership of NATO and the European Union.

Peace has done little to reconcile them.   Continued...

The restored old stone bridge over Neretva river is seen in Mostar February 1, 2013. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic