A top official of the Democratic Action Party (SDA), the strongest Bosniak party, and the party itself have come into the spotlight this week after the leak of an audio file which unveiled details of an alleged deal involving vote-buying in return for a job arrangement in public institutions.
Semir Efendic, the candidate for the post of Sarajevo Canton SDA board chief, published an audio file on Saturday which, according to him, includes the voices of Asim Sarajlic, the SDA deputy leader, and three other persons, allegedly delegates who were supposed to arrange the vote outcome.
“In a media statement prior to the vote for the President of the Cantonal Board of SDA Sarajevo, I said I had findings on some unprincipled lobbying and pressures on delegates, but that I would speak about that after the vote. The vote is over and everyone is aware of its result, but as I promised I am publishing this audio file, which in the best way shows what happened behind the curtains of this vote. You can hear Asim Sarajlic, the Chairman of Personnel Committee and SDA deputy leader, offering the employment to a delegate in return for the vote for another candidate,” said Efendic, who lost the run for the post.
“I believe that, considering all these facts, Asim Sarajlic can no longer perform the duty of the SDA Personnel Committee Chairman, and I expect the party’s bodies to discuss this recording and pass adequate decisions,” he stressed.
According to Efendic, the man who was supposed to give his vote in return for the employment of his wife attended this meeting only to see who initiated the offers that were allegedly sent out to many delegates who were supposed to vote.
The audio file contains a conversation of four men, clearly showing they were arranging the said deal. However, its authenticity or the identity of its actors has not been yet officially confirmed by no one else except Efendic himself.
Nevertheless, the recording sparked strong reactions in the public and on the political stage, with some top SDA members saying they expected the party to act urgently.
“If we want to preserve the credibility of the SDA and the credibility of its policies and goals proclaimed at its convention, I am sure that the SDA’s competent bodies will call an urgent meeting and introduce adequate political sanctions on the actors of the recording,” said Denis Zvizdic, the party’s long-term member and current Speaker of the State House of Representatives.
He wrote on his official Twitter that he was not supportive of the “arrogant behaviour” and “scandalous offers” or “malicious threats” that could be heard in the audio.
But, the SDA’s statement issued a day later said it was only “an attempt to destabilise the newly-elected body of the SDA.”
“Such recording, if it existed, was supposed to be presented immediately after it was made or during the assembly, and delivered to the party’s leadership and competent state institutions,” the party said.
“It is the institutions of the state that should deal with the content of the recording, its authenticity, the way it was made and the motives, its public distribution and potential responsibility of all actors,” the SDA said, adding that the party alone will deal with political responsibility and pass adequate decisions.
Of 99 delegates entitled to vote, 59 voted Fikret Prevljak, the new leader of Sarajevo Canton SDA board, while 40 thought Efendic should be at the helm of the party in Sarajevo Canton.
The election winner briefly commented on the affair, noting that they should preserve the unity.
“Without that unity, we cannot move on, no matter who is in charge. If we’re not together, we’re bot losers,” said Prevljak, adding that he would wait for the prosecution’s findings before he says anything on the published content.
How long it will take for the competent institutions to clear the doubts, it is not known yet.
“The Prosecutor’s Office of Sarajevo Canton and the Interior Ministry are looking into the allegations from the articles regarding the recording published by Semir Efendic, the head of Sarajevo’s Novi Grad municipality. The Prosecution and Interior Ministry is taking all measures from the scope of their competencies,” spokesperson Azra Bavcic briefly told media.
Asim Sarajlic is already a subject of an investigation. The Prosecutor’s Office has already presented evidence in a case against Sarajlic before the Municipal Court in Sarajevo, charging him with a number of offences including the abuse of office and influence peddling.