GENEVA — Serb and Croat leaders grudgingly accepted a compromise peace plan for Bosnia on Friday, but Muslims indicated that they may reject the proposal. The three warring factions were given 10 days to explain the plan to their peoples and parliaments.
The package--laid down by international mediators--is based on conflicting proposals by Bosnia's warring factions to divide the former Yugoslav republic into three ethnic states.
Conference spokesman John Mills said the deadline for replies was set for Aug. 30. "If they don't sign, the war will continue," he said.
"God help us all" if the Muslims reject the plan, Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic told reporters.
"We are not happy with the map, but we are aware that painful compromises have to be made for peace," he said.
Bosnia's 16-month-old civil war has left up to 200,000 people dead or missing. Fighting broke out after Muslims and Croats voted to secede from Serb-dominated Yugoslavia.
The plan would give Muslims about 31% of Bosnia's current territory. Serbs would have about 52% and Croats about 17%, according to a draft proposal.
Serbs and Croats, who control about 90% of Bosnia, said they would accept the map presented by mediators Lord Owen of the European Community and the United Nations' Thorvald Stoltenberg.
But the Muslim delegation--the weakest faction--had harsh words for the plan, which they said would give them too little land. The Muslims, who make up 43% of the population, want at least 40% of the land. They now control about 10%.
"We are not satisfied with what we have been offered," Bosnia's Muslim president, Alija Izetbegovic, said in a statement.
Meanwhile, Bosnian Croats on Friday denied a U.N. aid convoy access to the Muslim part of Mostar, where tens of thousands of people have been cut off from relief shipments for more than two months.
Later, a U.N. press release issued in Zagreb, Croatia, said the Croats agreed to let a humanitarian convoy reach the Muslim eastern sector Saturday.
U.N. Civil Affairs chief Cedric Thornberry was permitted to enter the Croat-held western area Thursday with seven U.N. vehicles carrying a token amount of medical supplies.
But U.N. officials said Bosnian Croats on Friday refused to honor their promise to allow aid to reach Muslims in the east side of the southwestern Bosnian city, where 35,000 people are stranded.
Sylvana Foa, a spokeswoman for the U.N. high commissioner for refugees in Geneva, said U.N. officials there "were told it was not safe and they could not go onto the east bank."
The U.N. release in Zagreb said the Bosnian Croats agreed to let the aid convoy reach the Muslim section today after a deal negotiated by Thornberry with the Bosnian Croats' military commander.
The convoy of six armored personnel carriers will deliver urgently needed medical supplies to the Muslims in Mostar.
Lt. Col. Patricia Purves, a U.N. spokeswoman in Sarajevo, said the Muslims "have no electricity, no water. . . . It is a desperate situation."
Foa said the situation in the better-supplied Croat section was reported as "really atrocious."
"On that basis we can just imagine what it's like in the Muslim section," she said.