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Saturday, November 22, 1997 Published at 12:15 GMT

image: [ BBC Correspondent: Karen Coleman ]Karen Coleman
From Sarajevo

Voting is now underway in the Bosnian Serb republic for a new parliament. Over one million people will be entitled to cast their ballots for a new assembly in the Serb part of the country. Bosnia's divided into two entities; the Bosnian Serb republic and the Moslim and Croat federation. Each entity has its own parliament. The elections were called after a bitter power struggle developed between rival Bosnian Serb factions. One is loyal to Radovan Karadzic, the other to his opponent president Biljiana Plavsic. Karen Coleman reports from Sarajevo:

The voting will take place over two days. More than one million will be able to vote for a new parliament in the Bosnian Serb republic. The elections were called after Biljiana Plavsic, the President of the Bosnian Serbs dissolved the assembly last July. She became embroiled in a bitter power struggle with her opponents who are hard line nationalists and supporters of Radovan Karadzic. Mrs Plavsic broke away from the ruling Serb democratic party and formed her own alliance. Since the summer the Bosnian Serb Republic has been deeply divided. Mrs Plavsic's support is centred around the western town of Banja Luka. Her rivals are based in Pale in the east side of the country. Western powers have backed President Plavsic in the struggle. They regard her as a moderate and a supporter of the peace process for Bosnia. Diplomats are hoping her party will win a substantial number of seats in the parliament. The elections will be a crucial test of her political strength, she may be forced to resign as president if the people do not back her. One group likely to gain are the extreme radicals, the question is whether they and Mr Karadzic's supporters will hold onto enough seats to form a majority government. Results will not be officially announced until about December 10.

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