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Bosnia's first census in 20 years is slated to take place in 2013, after political parties reached an agreement following years of negotiations.
After a long stalemate in Bosnia’s state parliament, the much-disputed census is one step closer to taking place in 2013. Lawmakers agreed this week to pass a critical law in February that will make way for the first survey of Bosnia’s population since 1991.
Although political parties are ready to adopt the law next month, the country will need at least one year to finish technical preparations, according to Halid Genjac, a high-ranking member of the Party of Democratic Action, SDA.
“Even though it was planned that we would hold it in the fall, we cannot complete all the necessary preparations by then,” Genjac said, “and the census will most likely be in April next year.”
Bosnia's six main political parties reached the agreement on December 28, after resolving the contentious issue of whether residents must indicate their ethnic identity and religious orientation. Stating these on the census will now be optional.
Until now, passage of the law was stalled due to negotiations over this issue, Genjac said.
Other disputed issues also slowed the census effort.
For years Bosniaks, Croats and Serbs could not agree on provisions in the census law concerning refugees and displaced persons. The law now says that power sharing in Bosnia will eventually be based on the results of the fresh census, but only after refugees and displaced persons are counted and are provided the rights they were guaranteed after the war.
Most other countries in the region completed their census-taking over the past year, partly in an effort to meet expectations in Brussels. The recent agreement reached in Bosnia is largely attributed to a strong EU push to carry out the population count.
Since the last census in 1991, Bosnia’s demographics have been based on estimations. According to UN figures, the country has around 3,8 million people.
While some politicians say the country is ready to submit a formal application soon, the consensus is that few in Brussels will take the idea seriously.
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