By Drazen Remikovic
Two months after local elections in Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH), Serbian parties are protesting the results in Srebrenica, alleging that Bosniaks engaged in voter fraud.
The dispute threatens to disrupt the work of the local assembly as Serbian members have vowed to boycott if Bosniak candidate Camil Durakovic is certified as the winner of the mayor’s race.
Durakovic received 4,323 votes, while opponent Vesna Kocevic, backed by a coalition of Serbian parties, received 3,661 votes.
Emir Suljagic, co-ordinator of Durakovic’s campaign, said he is waiting for action from the BiH Central Electoral Commission (CIK).
“CIK counted the votes from Srebrenica 10 times. I think everything is clear,” Suljagic told SETimes. “Due to obstruction of the implementation of the election results, Srebrenica will probably be the only municipality in BiH which will not adopt the budget until the new year.”
The Serb coalition complained of election fraud, but CIK decided on November 5th that the election would not be repeated. The Serb parties appealed to the Appellate Division of the Court of BiH, which ordered CIK to reconsider the decision. CIK rejected the request for the second time on November 30th.
CIK member Suad Arnautovic said there was no indication of fraud during the electoral process.
“When the elections ended, neither side had any significant objections,” Arnautovic told SETimes. “When it was announced who won, a political show crashed in Srebrenica.”
Radomir Pavlovic, president of the Srebrenica’s Municipal Committee of the Alliance of Independent Social Democrats, disagrees.
“Bosniak citizens fictitiously registered their residence so they can vote in Srebrenica, there was vote buying, there was election fraud,” Pavlovic told SETimes. “We, from the Serb political block, filed several appeals to CIK and are awaiting a final decision so we can decide what we are going to do.”
Republika Srpska Interior Ministry spokesperson Mirna Soja told SETimes that between the call for elections in May and August 23rd, when voters’ lists were finalised, nearly 2,300 people registered residences in Srebrenica.
According to the RS Interior Ministry, 612 people have unregistered residences in Srebrenica since the October elections.
“RS’s Interior Ministry acted on requests of CIK and conducted checks into registrations of place of residence in all Republika Srpska municipalities to discover registrations not in keeping with the BiH law on residence,” Soja said.
In 2008, the international community and the BiH government made an exception to the election law allowing citizens in Srebrenica to vote either in their current or pre-war domiciles. That option was not extended for the October elections. According to the current data, about 12,000 people had the right to vote, which included 8,000 Serbs and 4,000 Bosniaks.
Citizens want to see the end of political games around Srebrenica.
“We live together, socialize, and everything. But the moment we touch the past, everybody takes their starting position. Who can we blame for that? Politicians, of course,” Enver Baljagic, 57, a farmer from Srebrenica told SETimes.