It is not surprising that the people are again in the streets in Bosnia and Herzegovina. The leaders of the political parties have refused to take responsibility for citizens’ dissatisfaction and poverty, attempting to present the protests as an ethnic, rather than social discontent fuelled by corruption.
The first reaction of the political elite to the demonstrations was to use force to disperse the crowds and then publish false information about the cause. In an attempt to avoid responsibility, the leaders even turned to inciting hatred among the three different ethnicities in Bosnia and Herzegovina (Bosniaks, Serbs and Croats).
Fortunately, these attempts have so far failed. The protestors remain determined that one of the goals of the protests is to get corrupt and irresponsible representatives of governments to hand in their resignations and for a new, expert government to be appointed.
The truth is more complex, something people understand, which is why they continue to protest.
People want to hold government to account for years of mismanagement and corruption. They are asking for change. So far the heads of four cantons have resigned, although the Federation Prime Minister Nermin Niksic refused to do so.
Last year the Bosnia and Herzegovina chapter of Transparency International analysed the way government worked and the different pillars of state. It made a series of recommendations to help deal with rampant corruption, including:
No impunity for corruption
The media has exposed numerous corruption scandals involving high-ranking politicians, but there have been no prosecutions. The judiciary should give corruption cases priority and the statutes of limitation, which often run out before cases are heard, should be abolished.
Political leaders, judges and prosecutors and their families should publish their assets and the sources of income to ensure there is no conflict of interest or profiting above their pay grades. These declarations should then be checked and monitored.
Reform political-party funding, conflict of interest and public procurement laws
The country needs tougher anti-corruption laws with clear and stricter sanctions. There needs to be more control over the political party expenditure, a broadening of the list of people who conflict of interest laws apply to, and the creation of independent institutions to implement the laws.
Transparency in public-private partnerships
All previous and future contracts for privatisations, capital investments and public-private partnerships, as well as reports on public companies, should be made public and accessible on the websites of respective institutions and companies. This will help civil society monitor the usage of public funds.