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May 7, 1996
. Vreme News Digest Agency No 239

Rajko Kasagic

by Ljiljana Smajlovic

Bosnian Serb Republic Prime Minister

Date and Place of Birth: October 15, 1942, Razboj near Srbac.

Education and Profession: graduated law in Belgrade and got his Phd in Banja Luka. Worked as a director of Jelsingrad and later as a chief inspector in Banja Luka.

Political Career: SDS candidate in 1990, elected to Bosnian parliament and then elected chairman of Banja Luka city hall executive board (with Mayor Predrag Radic). Replaced Dusan Kozic as Prime minister in December 1995 at Radovan Karadzic's suggestion. He's the fourth war time RS Prime minister.

Political Reputation Before the War: In the pre-war parliament he enjoyed a reputation as an "angry Krajina man" and was one of the most radical SDS MPs leading the SDS MPs out of at least once debate in Parliament.

Prior to the Premiership: Unlike Radic who conducted regional Bosnian Krajina politics, Kasagic was seen as loyal to Pale and fiercely argued that Banja Luka was not being disregarded. In November 1995, while Bosnian Krajina towns were falling to Moslem and Croat troops, Karadzic proposed him as incoming prime minister in an effort to kill two birds with one stone: get a prime minister who is loyal to him and pretend to make a concession to the disobedient Krajina.

Since he became Prime Minister: He's done away with the image of loyalty to Karadzic and started taking independent steps which earned him a reputation as Milosevic's trump card, the man who will start the long awaited political changes in the RS.

What did he say in 1995: "You can't talk of any disunity in Banja Luka. The things a few people are saying are meaningless. The biggest problem is that their statements are being used by some political structures in Belgrade."

What is He Saying in 1996: "It's to the shame of every nation to hide war criminals in its midst." "I can't accept the theory that a village should be the capital of the RS. Pale was the war time capital. The capital has to be where the most people are and that's Banja Luka." "This is a time of our wisdom because the world is trying to remove on set of politicians in expectation of a more moderate version who could deal with the Moslems. We have to open the door to the world because it wants to be our friend."

What Does He think of the RS Socialist Party: "I think the RS Socialist party along with the SDS is the most serious political organization among the Serbs west of the Drina."

How Did He Disappoint Milosevic: He obeyed Karadzic and didn't go to the donors conference in Brussels.

How Did He Disappoint Karadzic: "I don't know if some people are pleased with me. There was some criticism of some statements. I feel that we can no longer have the same policies as we did in the war."

How is he Similar to the SPS: With his statement: "What money from the World Bank? They want privatization."

Latest Success: With a little help from Belgrade, he saved himself from being ousted by Pale.

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