Riot police in the Bosnian capital Sarajevo on Tuesday. Photo by Edis Jasarevic.
Protests against government corruption and unemployment have continued in Bosnia-Herzegovina for more than a week now. After last weekend’s violent unrest – the worst since Bosnia's civil war ended in 1995 – activists are demanding that the entire government step down.
The violence began
last Friday in the northern city of Tuzla. Groups of youths and recently laid-off workers rioted in the former industrial hub, setting off a wave of violent unrest across the country. Rioters set fire to government buildings in four cities
, including Tuzla, the capital Sarajevo, and Mostar.
Protesters in the Bosnian capital Sarajevo on Tuesday. Photo by Edis Jasarevic.
The demonstrations have exposed a deep undercurrent of social discontent in the tiny Balkan state. Successive governments – which are fragmented
along ethnic lines, often resulting in stalemates on key issues – have made little economic headway in almost two decades of peace that have followed the brutal civil conflict. As a result, many of Bosnia’s 3.8 million people struggle to make ends meet. Though the country’s official unemployment figure
stands at 27%, it jumps to 45% once the informal economy is taken into account. According to the World Bank, youth unemployment
is around 57%.
Now, so-called ‘plenums’ are springing up across the country: open-air forums with the aim of bringing people together to figure out a common plan of action. Our Observers tell FRANCE 24 that the goal of these citizens’ forums are to create a leaderless platform that “speaks for everyone", as they believe opposition parties have attempted to hijack the protest movement in order to win votes.