Croat leader slams decision separating vote in Mostar from rest of the country

NEWS 24.07.2020 17:40
Source: Fena

The main Croat party in Bosnia and Herzegovina will not support the idea of separately held local election in the southern city of Mostar, the party leader Dragan Covic told foreign ambassadors in the country, warning that this might destabilise the situation.

Covic's note to ambassadors comes a day after the Central Election Commission (CIK) decided that the local election in Mostar would take place on December 20 this year unlike the rest of the country, which will see the vote on November 15.

CIK initially called the election for November 15, 150 days prior to the vote as prescribed by law. But, it was only in mid-June that political leaders agreed on a set of rules defining the voting rules in Mostar, the city that has not seen any election since 2008 due to unconstitutional parts of the Election Law concerning the voting system in that city and due to political disagreements on how to solve that issue.

Mediated by foreign ambassadors, the political talks resulted in an agreement on the issue last month, and Bosnian Croat leader was one of its signatories. 

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“Mostar cannot be an exception, especially not now when we have a firm agreement backed by a consensus, which gives the visible result. The simultaneity of the election and integrity of the election process are achievable only under harmonised conditions, rules and circumstances. In regard with that, we will not support any further exception for Mostar from general standards nor any attempt to separate the elections. We have waited for too long for this progress to accept some improvised and unreasonable decisions, which deviate from the law,” said Covic in a note he addressed to the European Union Ambassador Johann Sattler, UK Ambassador Matthew Field, US Ambassador Eric Nelson as well as the international community's High Representative Valentin Inzko and Head of the OSCE Mission Kathleen Kavalec.

If such precedent is allowed, there is an “unnecessary risk” of unpredictable destabilisation and new traps that might take us backwards, he added.

The reason behind Mostar not holding an election for 12 years is a 2010 ruling by the countries Constitutional Court ruling in which several parts of the election law regarding Mostar were declared unconstitutional. It was then up to the parliament to change it.

But the leaders of Bosnia’s main Bosniak and Bosnian Croat ethnic parties that won the election in 2008 could not agree on how to amend the law for more than a decade.

Only recently did the Party for Democratic Action (SDA) and Bosnia’s Croat Democratic Union (HDZ BiH) finally reach an agreement on the issue.