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The BBC's Alix Kroeger in Sarajevo
"As president of Bosnia, Alija Izetbegovic failed to anticipate the civil war"
 real 28k

Saturday, 14 October, 2000, 11:43 GMT
Izetbegovic steps down
Alija Izetbegovic
Retirement plan had been announced in advance
The Bosnian Muslim leader, Alija Izetbegovic, has formally resigned from the country's three-member presidency.

In a farewell address, he said: "I have decided to step down from the presidency before my mandate expires.

"The reasons for which I undertook this step are known to the people."

Mr Izetbegovic, who is 75, announced his retirement earlier in the year, citing his failing health and advanced age.

He led the Muslim community and the government of Bosnia-Hercegovina throughout the three-and-a half-year civil war that ended in 1995.

Passing of a generation

The BBC correspondent in Sarajevo says his retirement marks the passing of a generation of leaders who oversaw the dismemberment of the former Yugoslavia.

At Saturday's official ceremony in Sarajevo, Mr Izetbegovic temporarily handed over the Muslim seat in the tripartite presidency to Halid Genjac, current speaker of Bosnia's House of Representatives, until parliament elects his successor.

The presidency's rotating chairmanship has passed to Serb member Zivko Radisic.

The Muslim, Croat and Serb members of the Bosnian presidency rotate as chairman every eight months, within a four-year term.

Despite his retirement from the presidency, Mr Izetbegovic has said he intends to lead his Muslim nationalist party, the SDA, into next month's parliamentary elections.

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14 Oct 00 | Europe
Bosnia war: Main players
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