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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Save War, Bosnian Vote to Take Place

SARAJEVO -- European security organization officials insisted Friday that post-war Bosnia's elections must go ahead Sept. 14 -- despite problems so intractable another war might be required to solve them.


The comments reflected worry among diplomats about prospects for a free and fair vote in Bosnia because of obstruction by once-warring Moslem, Croat and Serb nationalist parties.


Robert Frowick, envoy of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, or OSCE, said: "We have had almost an endless number of suggestions that we postpone the elections because the conditions aren't exactly what they should be under the terms of the peace agreement."


Frowick added: "I think we had to bite the bullet and make that decision in June and I don't think it's going to be revisited unless there is a major outbreak of violence."


The OSCE is charged with supervising the elections under the terms of the Dayton peace accord, which ended 43-months of war in December. Frowick heads the OSCE mission in Bosnia.


The elections were intended by Dayton to reintegrate the country as a single, sovereign, multi-ethnic state.


But diplomats, independent observers and even the OSCE's own election monitoring group have concluded that Bosnia's Moslem, Serb and Croat nationalist parties are subverting elections in their areas of influence to hold on to power.


By Frowick's own acknowledgment the substantive pre-conditions laid down in Dayton as threshold requirements for elections going forward have not been met.


The ballot will be held although there is no freedom of movement, association or press, no possibility for refugees to return to their homes across de facto ethnic boundary lines and no neutral political environment in which to campaign.


"We will have imperfect, absolutely unsatisfactory elections. But the question is whether a minimal, basic sense of democracy will arise despite all the errors and shortcomings. We will only be able to determine this on Sept. 14," Flavio Cotti, Swiss Foreign Minister and OSCE chairman told German radio Friday.


Instead of ushering in a unitary Bosnia comprised of a Moslem-Croat federation and a Serb republic, elections now seem likely to reinforce existing, de facto ethnic boundary lines which would move the country towards formal partition. "The situation that this country faces is a result of military conflict and perhaps it would take a war to undo [its problems] really fully, effectively," Frowick told reporters.


"I see no prospect of readiness by military forces within the country or by the international community to unleash a military conflict to reverse the results of the war. We have to use diplomacy ... and that approach takes time."