An anti-privatisation protest in the city of Tuzla has exploded into general social insurrection.by Jasmin Mujanovic, Al Jazeera, Feb. 9, 2014
Whatever little semblance of legitimacy the constitutional order in Bosnia-Herzegovina (BiH) may have enjoyed at the beginning of this week went up in flames on Friday night. BiH’s three Presidents, two entities, one special district, ten cantons and internationally appointed High Representative – the entirety of its bloated bureaucracy – witnessed the storming of their government offices in the cities of Tuzla, Sarajevo, Zenica, Bihac and Mostar.
As a result, at least two regional governments have collapsed, in the Tuzla and Zenica-Doboj cantons. What began as a local, anti-privatisation protest on Wednesday in Tuzla had grown by Friday into a general social insurrection.
Two years ago, I wrote that a “Bosnian Spring” was this country’s only hope for a brighter future. Now, the spring has come, and with it, the storms.
For nearly twenty years, Bosnians and Herzegovinians have suffered under the administration of a vicious cabal of political oligarchs who have used ethno-nationalist rhetoric to obscure the plunder of BiH’s public coffers. The official unemployment rate has remained frozen for years at around 40 percent, while the number is above 57 percent among youth. Shady privatisation schemes have dismantled what were once flourishing industries in Tuzla and Zenica, sold them off for parts, and left thousands of workers destitute, with many still owed thousands of dollars in back-pay. Pensions are miserly too; the sight of seniors digging through waste bins[Ba] is a regular one in every part of the country, while the wages of BiH’s armies of bureaucrats and elected officials have only grown[Sr].
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Jasmin Mujanovic is a PhD candidate at York University and currently a Visiting Scholar at the Harriman Institute at Columbia University.