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Alija Izetbegovic Dies At 78

After spending 23 days in Sarajevo’s Kosevo Hospital, wartime Bosnian President Alija Izetbegovic died on 19 October, as a result of complications following injuries sustained during a fall in his home. He was 78.

The letters of condolence that flooded Bosnia from the leaders of over 80 countries delivered a similar message: Izetbegovic, Bosnia’s first president and the leader of the nationalist Bosniak (Bosnian Muslim) Party of Democratic Action (SDA), had played a positive role in the country’s recent tragic history.

Among Bosniaks, the former president was largely considered a spiritual leader who was forced to trade in his pen for a sword when the war started. “Don’t seek revenge, seek justice,” was his last message to his Bosniak supporters.

To the West, he was a moderate leader compared to his wartime Serbian and Croatian counterparts, Slobodan Milosevic and Franjo Tudjman.

To his own countrymen in the Bosnian Serb-dominated entity of Republika Srpska, he is a war criminal whose death allowed him to escape responsibility.

(TOL 23.x.03)

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