Sarajevo tense after week of violent political protests

Feb. 8, 2014 at 10:22 AM

SARAJEVO, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Feb. 8 (UPI) -- The Bosnian capital of Sarajevo remained largely paralyzed Saturday following an eruption of violent protests of the economy, officials said.

Businesses were closed in the wake of the rioting, which also hit other Bosnian cities, including Mostar and Tuzla, Euronews said.

Government buildings were sacked and cars were set on fire during the week. Security forces responded with water cannon and tear gas, contributing to more than 200 injuries.

Zeljko Kosmic, the chairman of the Balkan nation's presidency, told Euronews the situation was not unexpected given the sluggish economy and growing resentment of the current government.

"This is something you might expect," Kosmic said. "What now? If some people need to resign, they should resign."

Kosmic was expected to call a top-level meeting of government officials to figure out a response.

The New York Times said a complex power-sharing system put together to end the bloody ethnic fighting of the mid-1990s has been vulnerable to political in-fighting and inertia.

"People are fed up with what has become total political chaos in Bosnia, with infighting over power, a dire economic situation and a feeling that there is little hope for the future," Srecko Latal, an analyst at the Social Overview Service in Sarajevo told the Times. "The protests are a wake-up call for the international community not to disengage from Bosnia."

Latal said the demonstrators appeared to be mainly from the Bosnian-Croat community but protests were starting to stir up the struggling country's ethnic Serbs as well.

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