Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic cheered his re-election as party president on Saturday and proclaimed his ultimate goal: secession of the part of Bosnia he controls and unification with "other Serb lands."
Karadzic, indicted on war crimes charges, shrugged off international demands that he relinquish power.His re-election as head of the Serbian Democratic Party verifies "the righteousness of the vision about creation of a strong state on the way to final uniting with other Serb lands," Karadzic told Bosnian Serb radio.
The Bosnian Serb news agency SRNA said he got 353 out of 354 votes: Karadzic ran uncontested, and one vote was annulled.
The Dayton peace accords bar indicted war crimes suspects from holding office and specifies that they be tried by the U.N. war crimes tribunal.
On Saturday, leaders at a meeting of the world's top industrial nations demanded that the Bosnian Serb leader "renounce definitively and immediately all public functions and . . . pass all of his powers to new officials."
President Clinton and leaders from Russia, Japan, Britain, France, Germany, Italy and Canada signed the demand at the summit of the Group of Seven nations in Lyon, France.
The leaders threatened to restore wartime sanctions both on Bosnia's Serbs and Serbia.
Carl Bildt, the top civilian administrator of the peace accords, says those sanctions will be imposed Monday unless Karadzic gives way. U.S. officials say they have set no date, but agree with Bildt's push for immediate action.
Yugoslavia clearly fears the return of crippling sanctions that originally were meant as punishment for Serbian support of the Bosnian Serb war effort.
In an interview for Saturday's state-controlled Politika Ekspres daily, Yugoslav President Zoran Lilic said: "Karadzic must go now, and leave his post to someone else."
Karadzic's defiance has been matched by the Bosnian Serb army commander, Gen. Ratko Mladic, who also is indicted on two counts of war crimes and genocide.
Karadzic and Mladic, who made a rare public appearance at his well-guarded compound in eastern Bosnia on Friday, seem to be staking a strong claim to continued leadership of their people.
By lining up the Bosnian Serbs behind him, Karadzic can expect to stave off arrest by either the NATO-led peacekeeping force or Milosevic's security forces.
Neither the NATO-led force nor Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic has shown much appetite for arresting Karadzic, fearing casualties and creating a martyr for the Bosnian Serb cause.
Karadzic and Mladic have never publicly accepted full terms of the Dayton peace accord, which Mi-lo-se-vic negotiated on behalf of the Bosnian Serbs. The accord prohibits secession of Bosnian Serb-held lands from Bosnia proper.
World leaders see Karadzic as a threat to Sept. 14 elections, mandated by the peace accord to restore democracy to Bosnia.
In the northeastern town of Zvornik, a bomb severely damaged the headquarters of the Bosnian Serb Socialist Party, the main opposition to Karadzic's party, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe said Saturday.
No one was injured in Thursday's attack. Without accusing anyone by name, the OSCE called the bomb "yet another example of how certain persons or groups attempt to consciously obstruct pre-election activities."
Also Saturday, a newspaper reported that the Bosnian government objected to an election pamphlet that suggests the Bosnian Serb land is independent.