Conditions have not been met for the formation of the government following the election because the voting took place according to an unconstitutional election law, Bosnian Croat leader Dragan Covic said on Tuesday at a session of the Croat National Assembly (HNS), an organisation made up of Bosnian Croat parties.
The Assembly believes that the election of Zeljko Komsic, a Bosnian Croat from a left-leaning, multi-ethnic party, as Bosnian Croat member of the country’s presidency was a well-organised plan, which is “absolutely unacceptable, a little bit irritating, politically absolutely irresponsible and in contradiction to the latest ruling by the Constitutional Court,” the leader of the main Bosnian Croat party in the country, the Croat Democratic Union (HDZ), said.
Covic was referring to a ruling in a case submitted by Bosnian Croat politician Bozo Ljubic, who had argued that the Croat influence in cantons with a majority Bosniak population was unfairly diminished in the selection of delegates and that it allows Bosniaks to elect the Croat member of the Presidency.
Bosnia is composed of two semi-autonomous entities – one with a Serb ethnic majority, Republika Srpska (RS), and the other shared mostly by Bosniaks and Croats, the Federation (FBiH).
The state-level Presidency is composed of three members, each representing one of the three ethnic majorities. The Serb member is elected from the RS, and the Bosniak and Croat members are elected from the FBiH.
However, since there are many more Bosniaks than Croats in the Federation, Bosnian Croat representatives, particularly those from the HDZ, have been complaining that Bosniaks are able to elect the Bosnian Croat Presidency member. They said that this has already happened twice before and that it happened again in the General Election on October 7, with the election of Zeljko Komsic, Covic’s political opponent and leader of the Democratic Front (DF).
The Constitutional Court ruled in Ljubic’s favor in 2016 and declared certain parts of the Election Law unconstitutional.
But the ruling is contradictory to an earlier ruling by the European Court for Human Rights.
Based on a complaint filed against Bosnia by a member of the Roma minority, Dervo Sejdic, and a member of the Jewish minority, Jakob Finci, the country was told that its rule which stipulates that only ethnic Bosniaks, Croats, and Serbs can become Presidency members is contrary to the European Convention on Human Rights, a document Bosnia’s Constitution says it will respect.
Political parties have since 2016 not found a compromise on how to change to the law so it is in accordance with both rulings.
But for the HDZ, the bottom line is that the election was conducted according to an unconstitutional election law.
“There are no legal or constitutional conditions for the implementation of the election results,” Covic said. “We do not have an Election Law that permits it.”
The election of the Croat representative in the Presidency on behalf of Croats is “unconstitutional, illegal, and illegitimate,” he said.
“A completely unacceptable ambient which provides for instability was created in Bosnia. Representatives of the HNS want to create an ambient of complete protection of the Croat people and Bosnia’s path toward the European Union,” Covic said, adding that “Bosnia will never be mono-ethnic, civic or unitary.”
He also said he agrees with everything Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic said when he criticized the election process in Bosnia at an EU summit recently and insisted that parliamentarians change the Election Law.
“We have entered a legal crisis the likes of which we have not had in a long time at this level,” Covic concluded, but added that the election “raised many issues for which it may be good that they were raised and solved.”
The HNS Presidency said that its member parties are, according to the election results, the only legitimate representatives of Bosnian Croats.
Zeljko Komsic is not a legitimate representative of Croats, and his election represents a grave breach of Bosnia’s Constitution and the 1995 Dayton Peace Treaty, which ended the Bosnian war, the HNS said in a press statement following the session.
Komsic election is not only a breach of Croat constitutional rights but also damaging to the principles Bosnia and Herzegovina was established upon, the statement said.
The organisation said that the issue is not only political and constitutional but also a matter of national freedom, dignity and perseverance, which is why HNS member parties will from now on act as one body – a political bloc of Croat ethnic parties.