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Bosnia's High Representative says discussions over new ways to reorganise governing the city do not threaten its unity.
Valentin Inzko said in Sarajevo on Friday that the political unity of the city of Mostar was not in question as a result of disputes over the future government of the city.
“I assure all citizens of Mostar that the city's integration will not be annulled,” Inzko said, “Mostar has got too far and its citizens and the international community has invested too much effort for this to happen.”
He was referring to proposals that the city should be divided again into several municipalities, of which Bosniaks and Croats would have equal numbers, leaving the City Council to solve only joint issues.
The proposal to divide the city into municipalities comes from the largest Bosniak [Muslim] party, the Party of Democratic Action, SDA, which has put the plan forward to the main Croat party, the Croatian Democratic Union, HDZ, as a solution to endemic power-sharing disputes in Mostar.
As of today Mostar's City Council is a unitary authority comprising six voting units from which the same number of councillors are elected regardless of the number of voters in each one.
But in November 2010 and February 2012 the Constitutional court of Bosnia issued two decisions saying that election system should be changed to give all voters the same power.
This followed a complaint by Croats on the City Council who said their rights were being disadvantaged by an electoral system that gave Bosniaks the same number of councillors even though Croats are in the majority in the city.
Inzko said the Constitutional Court had rightly decided there had to be a fairer balance of power from the city's six electoral regions.
“For example, in the south-east part of Mostar there are around 7,000 voters and in the Old City there are more than 19,000 and yet both get to chose the same number of councillors,” Inzko said.
Mostar is an ethnically divided city and power is mostly shared between two ethnic parties, the SDA and the HDZ.
Although there have been no exact data on the population or ethnic structure of Mostar since the 1991 census, estimates say the majority in Mostar nowadays are Croats.
The HDZ says that back in 2004 when the former High Representative Paddy Ashdown, abolished the municipalities in Mostar, his only aim was to disable Croats from having more power than Bosniaks, discriminating against the rights of the Croat majority.
The SDA solution is to divide Mostar again into municipalities with authorities over them given equally to Bosniaks and Croats.
Not all Bosnian Muslims back this idea however. The mainly Bosniak Social Democrats have said they oppose any kind new municipal structure in Mostar.
The party general secretary, Svetozar Pudaric, said that the SDA and the HDZ were only fighting for power and money in Mostar.