Montenegro's parliament sacks minister over Srebrenica genocide denial

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BELGRADE (Reuters) - Montenegro's parliament adopted a resolution on the 1995 Srebrenica genocide late on Thursday and dismissed the pro-Serb justice minister over his denial of the massacre, a move that may threaten the stability of the bickering ruling coalition.

In the resolution, the 81-seat parliament condemned the Srebrenica genocide when about 8,000 Muslim men and boys were executed by Bosnian Serb forces. It also banned public denial of the atrocity.

However, the pro-Serb Democratic Front (DF), the dominant pro-Serb party which supported Prime Minister Zdravko Krivokapic's Cabinet, which is comprised of pro-Western parties and those which favour close ties with Serbia, voted against the resolution, potentially harming the government's stability.

In April, Krivokapic launched a procedure to dismiss Justice Minister Vladimir Leposavic, who has no party affiliation, over his denial of the Srebrenica genocide.

Leposavic, a pro-Serb politician, said the Srebrenica genocide was not "unequivocally established" as fact.

The DF remained staunchly opposed to Leposavic's dismissal and he refused to quit.

"By proposing the sacking of the minister, I risked being... labelled as an enemy and a traitor only because of justice and truth," Krivokapic told deputies.

The genocide resolution is in line with Montenegro's pledge to protect human and minority rights as part of its push to join the European Union.

Krivokapic and his allies came to power last August after narrowly winning a parliamentary election, ousting an alliance led by the Democratic Party of Socialists (DPS) loyal to the long-serving President Milo Djukanovic.

The DF also asked for Krivokapic's resignation and a new coalition agreement, but it was not immediately clear whether the crisis would lead to the collapse of the government or a cabinet reshuffle.

In Bosnia, where rival ethnic groups could not agree to pass a similar resolution on the Srebrenica genocide, Sefik Dzaferovic, a Muslim Bosniak member of the country's tripartite presidency, hailed Montenegro's move as an "enormous contribution to strengthening peace and trust".

(Reporting by Aleksandar Vasovic; Editing by Gareth Jones)

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