Next test for Bosnia: Enforcing election results
September 15, 1997
Web posted at: 5:00 p.m. EDT (2100 GMT)
SARAJEVO, Bosnia-Herzegovina (CNN) -- As votes were being
counted in Bosnia-Herzegovina's elections Monday, organizers
said the implementation of the results could be a daunting
task and would likely determine the region's political
The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe,
which had organized and monitored the weekend polling,
declared the vote a success. OSCE spokesman David Foley said
that 70 percent of the electorate had participated in
elections for over 100 municipalities.
Even though final results will not be known until later in
the week, it was generally expected that the votes had been
cast along ethnic lines -- an assessment that prompted local
media to criticize the poll as a farce since hard-line
nationalist parties were merely trying to shore up their
"The acid test of the election will be implementing the
results," said Duncan Bullivant, spokesman for the
international High Representative to Bosnia-Herzegovina,
|Duncan Bullivant on the election....
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A similar statement came from Kris Janowski, spokesman for
the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees: "Essentially the
implementation of the election results is possibly the last
and biggest chance to piece the country back together as one
in a multi-ethnic sense and to really ensure the return of
refugees and displaced people."
The restoration of such multi-ethnic pre-war communities was
the underlying idea of the 1995 Dayton peace accord, which
formally ended the conflict in the former Yugoslavia, and
under which the weekend elections took place.
But the situation in the Bosnian city of Drvar, for example,
highlighted the problems that the implementation of
multi-ethnic democracy could entail.
Before the war, Drvar was mainly populated by Bosnian Serbs.
During the armed conflict they were expelled when Croats took
control of the city. But during the weekend elections, many
Serbs returned to cast their ballots in their former home
city, in line with the complex voting procedures.
Once all votes are counted in Drvar, the result might well be
that it will have a mixed-ethnic city council.
The OSCE said newly elected municipal governments would have
to meet strict criteria before the OSCE certified them
between now and the end of the year.
If a municipal council failed to meet within 30 days after
final voting results were announced, the OSCE could dissolve
Westendorp, the international High Representative to Bosnia, said authorities that refused to abide by
election results could lose out on economic aid.
Political analysts said the election might produce
"governments-in-exile" with municipal councilors unable to
enter towns which are now controlled by rival ethnic
Correspondent Jacki Shymanski and Reuters contributed to this report.