By choosing the 2013 census to be applied in the distribution of seats in the House of Peoples (HoP) of the Bosniak-Croat Federation (FBiH), one of the two semi-autonomous regions in the country, the Central Election Commission (CIK) has “legalised the ethnic cleansing” that occurred there during the 1992-1995 war, deputy head of the Social Democratic Party (SDP), Lana Prlic, told N1 on Wednesday.
The discussion on whether Bosnia’s pre-war 1991 census or the one from 2013 will be applied has become a burning issue since the October General Election.
The two censuses show strongly differing ethnic population structures in some areas of the country. Once ethnically mixed, some of the ten cantons of the FBiH have now turned nearly pure Croat or Bosniak.
By opting for the 2013 census, CIK not only “agreed” to the principle of ethnic separation, but it also breached the Constitution, Prlic said.
According to a statement made by the head of the FBiH Statistics Agency, Emir Kremic, a few weeks ago, the Agency sent its binding opinion on the issue to CIK, which says that only the 1991 census can be applied.
The Dayton Peace Agreement which ended the war contains a separate annexe which says that all displaced persons have to be able to return home. The refugee return annexe, however, has never been declared as implemented, neither by Bosnia’s top international administrator, the High Representative nor by the country’s parliament.
Until it is implemented, only the 1991 census should be applied, Kremic explained.
If CIK can breach the Constitution and the law, “what is to be expected from politicians and citizens”, Prlic asked, accusing the Commission of mocking the state.
“This comes as icing on the cake to all that was wrong in the election process, the Election Law and finally the functioning of elections in our country,” she said, adding that the entire process was “absurd”.
Commenting on the Declaration on the status of Bosnian Croats, adopted by the parliament of neighbouring Croatia, Prlic said her party colleague, Sasa Magazinovic, has called for the Bosnian Parliament to adopt a declaration that would condemn Croatia’s declaration.
The Croatian document condemned the election of the Bosnian Croat member of the presidency in Bosnia, saying the numerically dominant Bosniaks had elected him while Croats in the country had voted for someone else.
This, Zagreb believes, is unacceptable and changes to Bosnia’s Election Law must be made to prevent one ethnic group from electing the representative of another.
“We can just turn this around and ask who Bosniaks and Serbs in the presidential election in Croatia have voted for,” she said.