Moon: Can Political Leaders Boycott Their Own Citizens?

patrick_moon_400x500The protests over the past week around BiH were an expression of citizens who care about the issues, see problems that are not being resolved, see BiH falling behind its neighbors, and want to see their government working on their behalf, said the Ambassador of the US to BiH Patrick Moon on his blog and posed the question: Can political leaders boycott their own citizens?

“A seemingly basic administrative issue, convoluted through BiH’s political machine, resulted in the inability of one of BiH’s youngest and most vulnerable citizens, a sick newborn, to travel overseas for necessary medical care”, said Moon.

“You would think this powerful story would prompt some introspection and perhaps even action by BiH’s political elite.  You would think they would work to implement a permanent solution to this relatively basic problem.  However, as we have seen, the response to the protests from the political elite has been attempts to manipulate the facts, avoid the citizens’ real message, denigrate the citizens’ efforts to demand political action, and to shift responsibility for the failings of the politicians back to the citizens”, said the US Ambassador.

Further, he said that last week some politicians said that “the protests were secretly organized by one or two or more political parties.  The demonstrations were bought and paid for by the international community.  The protests are about overthrowing a certain politician.  The demonstrations are not really about the personal identification number.  Citizens should not be demonstrating.  The demonstrations are ethnically motivated.  And on, and on”.

“One would need a professional cartographer to map out the extensive, convoluted, and purely fictional conspiracy theories that began even as mothers and children were still joining the peaceful protests at parliament and students in Banja Luka were asking for better living conditions on June 6”, said Ambassador Moon.

At the same time, he said that no one should insult the intelligence of the citizens.

“No one should insult the intelligence of the citizens.  No one should tell the citizens that they should not demonstrate peacefully.  As I stated then and repeat now, the protests on June 6, and others since then, are the embodiment of a citizen’s responsibility in a healthy democracy.  Through these demonstrations citizens have spoken clearly.  They are tired of divisive rhetoric, inaction, and excuses.  They are tired of politicians who never listen to them and do not find solutions to the issues”, said Moon.

He thinks that all they want is for their elected officials and the institutions in which they work to serve them, and that this is not too much to ask. Yet, when the citizens went out to protest to demand their constitutional rights, politicians disappeared and the institutions were left empty.

“Bosnia and Herzegovina just might be the only democratic country in the world where political leaders respond to protests by trying to boycott their own citizens”, concluded Moon, and said that this is not how responsible leaders act in a democracy.

To meet these challenges, in even the most basic way, leaders must take responsibility and come together to get institutions functioning”, said Moon.

“Some have shared concerns about personal security.  I believe these concerns have been addressed.  State-level security leadership has called for an investigation of last week’s events, and has personally guaranteed the security of state-level representatives to come and go without hindrance”, said US Ambassador Patrick Moon.

He said that coordination issues are being addressed, and that these and other ‘concerns’ should not be used as a justification to evade working in the interest of the citizens.

“BiH parliamentarians and members of the Council of Ministers are being paid; they have some of the most generous salary packages in BiH.  At the very least, they need to show up for work. They owe that to the citizens they represent”, said Moon.

It is the citizens who will suffer from a boycott of important legislative business on the parliament’s already full agenda of priority issues.  It is the citizens who, two weeks from now, will see the EU at their front lawn and wonder why their political leaders cannot make the basic agreements that would lead to talks on EU membership.  If citizens continue to be ignored, will they vote for political parties which refuse to work for them?, said Ambassador Moon on his blog.


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