By AIDA CERKEZ
February 12, 2014
SARAJEVO, Bosnia-Herzegovina (AP) — In the worst unrest since Bosnia's terrible civil war two decades ago, buildings have been set ablaze and the presidency has been put under siege. But the trouble this time is economic — not ethnic.
When Bosnia abandoned communism about two decades ago, officials devised a plan to privatize state-owned companies in a way they hoped would avoid mass layoffs for state workers. It was supposed to be a smooth transition after the 1992-1995 war that left 100,000 dead and devastated the country's infrastructure.
But it has been a disaster for people like Munevera Drugovac, a 58-year-old widow, who works for a company that was bought by a businessman in 2004. She hasn't been paid in 19 months.
"Back then, I didn't have electricity and heating because of the war," she said. "Now, I don't have it because of unpaid bills."
More than 80 percent of privatizations have failed. Many well-connected tycoons have swept into these companies, stripping them of their assets, declaring bankruptcy and leaving thousands without jobs or with minimal pay.
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