The wider political dispute however, revolves around the degree to which the institutions of the country's two ethnically distinct mini-states will be merged.

Merging institutions

Bosnia-Herzegovina comprises two states: a Bosnian Serb republic and a federation of Bosniaks and Croats, created under the Dayton peace accord that ended the 1992-95 Bosnian war.

The European Union is demanding that various institutions be merged ahead of membership.

"There are people in the Serb government who'd really like to see Bosnia fall apart. There is a very strong impression that Serbia is doing all it can, with Russian support, to make this happen"

James Lyon, senior Balkans adviser for the International Crisis Group
Bosnian Serbs, fearing the loss of their mini-state, the Serb Republic, have stayed away from meetings to block laws that could lead to the merger of government agencies.

Milorad Dodik, the leader of the Party of Independent Social Democrats, the most influential Bosnian Serb party, on Friday said his party would abstain from voting if Lajcak's plan was not changed.

Dodik also said two of his most important supporters would quit the government altogether.

"The leadership of the parliament will be lost ... that's our answer to political violence," Dodik said.

Nikola Spiric, the Bosnian prime minister and an ethnic Serb, resigned last week in a protest against Lajcak's plan.

However, Lajcak's office said on Friday that the Bosnian Serb proposal "does not constitute a basis for further discussions".

"Instead of streamlining and improving the decision-making process", the Bosnian Serb proposal "introduces new possibilities of blockage which did not even exist before," a statement from his office said.

Kosovo controversy

Diplomats have suggested that the discussions over neighbouring Kosovo's future status have worsened the situation.

They say that the Bosnian Serb Republic, encouraged by Belgrade and Moscow, could decide to go its own way in reaction to a unilateral declaration of independence by Kosovo once last-ditch negotiations on the future end on December 10.

"Belgrade is clearly stirring the pot in Bosnia," James Lyon, senior Balkans adviser for the International Crisis Group, said.
   
"There are people in the Serb government who'd really like to see Bosnia fall apart. There is a very strong impression that Serbia is doing all it can, with Russian support, to make this happen."

Haris Silajdzic, the ethnic Bosnian president, seemed to agree, telling Al Jazeera: "There is a crisis generated [in Bosnia] by the government in Belgrade because of the fact that the solution of the promise of Kosovo is now imminent.

"They would like to strengthen their position by generating another crisis and running a parallel crisis in Bosnia, so as to help their negotiating position."

However, he said he did not believe that the political crisis would lead to the country's split.

"Serbia is right now negotiating the status of Kosovo, and Kosovo will be independent, so they would like to get something too. But they will not get a part of Bosnia-Herzegovena."