Following changes to the electoral law, the Bosnian Serb political parties have formed a coalition for the upcoming local elections in the town of Srebrenica, in the hope of gaining the post of mayor.
Putting their political differences aside, all nine Bosnian Serb parties have decided to support one candidate, Vesna Kocevic, who is currently in charge of economic policy in the municipality of Srebrenica.
The changes to the electoral law mean that voting in the town of Srebrenica, which is in the predominantly Serb entity of Republika Srpska, will be conducted according to the rules that apply to the rest of Bosnia, so the voting should now be based on place of residence.
Until this year, voting in Srebrenica took place according to the 1991 census, when Srebrenica had a predominantly Bosniak population.
Following the 1995 massacre of more than 7,000 Bosniak men in the town of Srebrenica by the Bosnian Serb army, most local Bosniaks were either killed or left the city, which make the city predominantly settled by Serbs.
Vesna Kocevic argues that since the Bosniaks have been able to elect a mayor from their own ethnicity for the past ten years, the time has come for the Serbs to have their own representative.
“We are sorry for what happened in Srebrenica during the war, and we are sorry that a lot of people left our town. We respect the decisions of the courts regarding genocide, but we do not think that all Serbs living there should be treated differently, since the crimes were committed by individuals and not the nation,” says Kocevic.
“We live together with the Bosniaks, we have a high level of tolerance in the town, and we simply want a mayor of Serbian ethnicity,” adds Kocevic.
According to the current data of the Srebrenica Municipality, around 12, 000 people have the right to vote. 8,000 of the voting population are Serbs, and the rest Bosniaks.
Dragan Glisic, the director of the Archeology Museum in Skelane and a member of the Serb coalition election committee, says that despite the pressures from both Bosniaks and the international community, the Republika Srpska authorities have fought against the idea that the electoral law in Srebrenica should be any different to that of other Bosnian towns.
Glisic also condemned the abuse of the electoral system in Srebrenica by political actors on both sides, including the recent announcement by the Serbian Mufti [Muslim religious leader] Muamer Zukorlic that he will register his place of residence as Srebrenica, so that he can vote there.
Both Bosniak and Bosnian Serb parties hope to strengthen their chances in the elections by uniting on the basis of ethnic background. Both sides have called upon all those who were originally resident in Srebrenica but no longer live there to register to vote
In July 1995 Srebrenica was shelled and occupied by the Army of Republic of Srpska,VRS, despite being declared a protected area by the United Nations. More than 7,000 people were killed, the victims of genocide.
The Bosnian Serb commander’s role in the genocide committed in Srebrenica is described in detail in many indictments and verdicts pronounced before local and international judicial institutions.
Indictments in 1995 and 2000, further amended in 2002 and 2010, charge the former commander of the Republika Srpska Army with genocide and other crimes.
When Mladic ordered his army to bomb the people of Sarajevo until they ‘go insane’, he revealed the murderous intentions that would culminate in the Srebrenica massacre.