Bosnia's autonomous Serb Republic declared a state of emergency on Saturday, handing legislative powers to the region's president to expedite the passage of laws to ease the impact of the coronavirus epidemic.
"Our National Assembly has declared a state of emergency," Serb Republic President Zeljka Cvijanovic said at a news conference aired on television. "I hope this will be a temporary measure, lasting for weeks or months, depending the health and global situation."
Bosnia has recorded 259 cases of coronavirus. Four people have died.
The Balkan country comprises two highly autonomous regions, the Serb Republic and the Bosniak-Croat Federation, linked via a weak central government. Both the Federation and the central government have declared states of disaster, less severe than a state of emergency.
Most of the cases have been recorded in the Serb Republic, but all deaths have occurred in the Bosniak-Croat Federation.
Cvijanovic dismissed criticism that the introduction of the state of emergency and the suspension of parliament represented an attack on democracy.
"This only means the parliament will not convene as long as this situation is in force," she said, adding that she will continue to consult parliamentary committees when considering new legislation.
All neighboring countries have closed their borders with Bosnia, allowing only transportation of goods across designated border crossings. Bosnia has barred all foreigners from entering and has introduced a 14-day quarantine in tents set on the borders for its citizens arriving back in the country.
Both regions have banned people older than 65 and younger than 18 from leaving their homes in a bid to halt the spread of coronavirus and have introduced a night-time curfew.
The regional governments are pondering measures to help small and medium-sized companies whose operations have been hit by the epidemics but need to amend laws to proceed with them.