NEWS 11 Oct 16

Srebrenica Votes Recounted as Bosniaks Seek Annulment

A recount of the votes for the mayor of Srebrenica has begun, but the Bosniak-led Party for Democratic Action said the poll has been fatally tainted.

Eleanor Rose
Ballots arriving from Srebrenica in the Central Election Commission's East Sarajevo warehouse on Saturday. Photo: Anadolu

As a vote recount for the disputed mayoralty of Srebrenica began on Monday in Sarajevo, the Bosniak-led Party of Democratic Action, SDA called for a complete annulment of the local polls in the wartime flashpoint town.

According to the SDA, which is led by the Bosniak member of the country’s tripartite presidency, Bakir Izetbegovic, the legality of the vote was violated when police special forces from Republika Srpska entered the municipality election commission’s headquarters last Tuesday.

“Members of the SDA are seeking to nullify the elections in Srebrenica, because [the RS Ministy of Security’s intervention] grossly undermined the integrity of the electoral process,” said the SDA in a statement.

According to the statement, the interference constituted a violation of Bosnia’s electoral code, which stipulates that the Municipal Election Commission is responsible for collecting and processing results.

The head of Srebrenica’s municipal elections commission Nermin Alivukovic told BIRN last Wednesday that his team was in limbo, unable to open bags of uncounted votes after the police entered the HQ to seize control.

The Central Election Commission then opted to bring the ballots from five polling stations back to Sarajevo for a closely-observed count.

The bags of votes were moved from Srebrenica to a warehouse in East Sarajevo on Saturday for counting to begin on Monday.

The police intervention came after supporters of the two main mayoral candidates in Srebrenica, current Bosniak mayor Camil Durakovic and Serb-backed newcomer Mladen Grujicic, cried foul play.

A dispute had erupted over bags of election materials found in rubbish bags, but these turned out not to be lost ballots, but pens and other incidental items.

However, Grujicic told reporters, "materials of interest to the police have been taken by them".

The mayoralty of Srebrenica is highly symbolic to Bosniaks, since Srebrenica was the site of the 1995 massacre of 7,000 Bosniak men and boys by Bosnian Serb forces.

The town now lies in Bosnia’s Serb-dominated entity, Republika Srpska, and is mostly inhabited by Serbs.

However, since the war, Srebrenica continued to have Bosniak mayors because Bosniaks who used to live there have maintained their connection to the town, including voting rights.

According to preliminary results, Grujicic was ahead of Durakovic by more than 2,000 votes.

However, the final result is unconfirmed due to disputes and delays in counting ballots from abroad.

Durakovic has said that the overseas ballots could affect the outcome as many Bosniaks who fled the conflict are able to vote from outside the country.

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Srebrenica: Genocide Reconstructed

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.

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