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Bosnians step up anti-government protests

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

At least 1,500 people rallied in Sarajevo Monday to push Bosnian authorities to solve mounting economic and political problems in the Balkan country.

The protest was aimed at showing "general discontent", one of the organisers, Damir Dajanovic, told AFP, and was borne out of previous demonstrations in June, known as "Baby-lution".

Last month thousands rose up against a gap in the law that has left babies born since February without a personal ID number, thus preventing newborns from getting passports or access to medical care.

Protesters on Monday turned their focus to high unemployment and poverty.

One of the poorest countries in Europe, Bosnia has an unemployment rate of more than 40 percent among its 3.8 million inhabitants.

"Look, this is my pension! A deputy earns per month more than I get for a whole year," said pensioner Behija Curic, waving her bank statement.

One girl carried a placard saying "You are greedy, I cannot buy a snack at school".

The June protests were sparked by the case of a three-month-old girl who could not be sent to Germany for medical treatment as her parents were unable to obtain a passport for her.

The newborns fell victim to an ongoing dispute between Muslim, Croat and Serb MPs of Bosnia's central parliament over a draft personal identification law, which led the country's constitutional court to halt registration of newborns until the issue is resolved.

Post-war Bosnia is divided into two semi-autonomous entities linked by weak central institutions, whose work is almost constantly blocked by disputes between politicians from the three ethnic communities.

Protesters at Monday's gathering displayed photos of local politicians from all three ethnic groups masked as vampires.

Serb lawmakers have not attended parliament since the start of the protests, saying they fear for their safety. They have also said they "will not adopt laws "under pressure from protesters".

The draft law on personal identification numbers has yet to be approved.

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/afp/130701/bosnians-step-anti-government-protests