news 19 Oct 12

Mayoral Win in Srebrenica Still Uncertain

Bosnia's Central Electoral Commission still does not have official information over who will be mayor of Srebrenica, even after repeating the ballot count.

Elvira M. Jukic
BIRN
Sarajevo

Bosnia's Central Electoral Commission, CIK, on October 18 said that the process of recounting ballots from Srebrenica was finished but the result of the poll is still not determined.

Owing to suspicions of irregularities, the process of counting ballots from local elections held on October 7 in Bosnia was repeated in a few municipalities, including Srebrenica, where Bosniaks [Muslims] and Serbs are still fighting for the mayor's post.

“We still don't have final information on the issue, but the recount finished today [on Thursday],” the CIK said.

Srebrenica had three mayoral candidates on October 7, one representing Bosniak parties, one representing Serbian parties and one independent candidate, who did not win many votes.

Both the Serb and the Bosniak candidates claimed victory although unofficial CIK data show that the Bosniak gained more votes.

Camil Durakovic, the candidate of the Bosniak parties, told Balkan Insight that he also has no new information and awaits release of the results.

“I don't expect the results to change the current data, which say I won more votes,” Durakovic said.

“Any changes could only support me because there are many more votes from absentees, most of whom are Bosniak,” he added.

“The CIK has legal procedures to respect but I don't expect anything to change the current state, where I have more support,” Durakovic said.

But Vesna Kocovic, the candidate supported by the Serb parties, told Balkan Insight that everyone should await the CIK's final data.

The fact that the counting process was repeated and had lasted for 11 days suggested that there had been irregularities, she said.

“I think there were irregularities in the municipal election commission in Srebrenica,” Kocovic said. “My complaints are that the personnel were either not well trained, or were working in support of some other candidates.”

She recalled that on the election night the first preliminary unofficial data showed that she had almost 500 votes more than Durakovic, but the situation then changed.

Incomplete data on the CIK website show the results from 72 per cent of voting stations. In these, Durakovic has total of 2,605 votes, or 45 per cent, and Kocovic has around 40 per cent.

“We will see what the CIK says but in any case, whatever happens, I want the will of citizens to prevail, whoever they supported most,” Kocovic said.

Before the massacre of around 8,000 Bosniaks in the town in July 1995 by the Bosnian Serb army under Ratko Mladic, about 80 per cent of the 37,000 people in the municipality were Bosniaks.

The percentages today are almost the opposite. Of some 6,000 or 7,000 people who live in Srebrenica, some 30 per cent are Bosniaks and the rest are Serbs, most estimates say.

Although most local Bosniaks were either killed or have left, the town remains deeply sensitive for most Muslims as a symbol of their wartime suffering.

More than 5,000 victims of the 1995 massacre are buried at the Potocari genocide memorial.

Bosnia's election law was amended in 2008 for the local elections to enable Bosniaks no longer living in Srebrenica to vote. But that change was valid only for that year's local elections.

So, Durakovic supporters ran a campaign prior to the 2012 local elections calling on Bosniaks to come, register and vote in Srebrenica for their candidate, voicing fears that if a Serb ran the municipality, he or she would probably be a "genocide denier".

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