Int. officials to Bosnian Croat leader: Delayed elections in Mostar are legal

NEWS 30.07.2020 17:04
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Source: Anadolija

Responding to a letter of complaint sent to the by the head of the main Bosnian Croat party, international officials in Bosnia said that the Central Election Commission acted lawfully when it scheduled the elections in the southern city of Mostar end of December, nearly a month after local elections in the rest of the country.

In a joint letter to Dragan Covic, the leader of the Croat Democratic Union, the heads of the EU Mission to Bosnia, the Office of the High Representative, the OSCE and the U.S. and the U.K. embassies said that they welcome Covic’s continued engagement on the elections in Mostar, which is “among the 14 priorities of the European Commission’s Opinion and is one of the highest priorities in reinforcing principles of democracy and the rule of law in Bosnia and Herzegovina.”

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The southern city did not hold an election for the past 12 years because of the political bickering between the two ruling national parties representing the country’s Bosniaks and Croats. The deadlock was solved recently with an agreement they signed.

The officials said they were relieved to see the country’s budget finally adopted a few days ago, which enables the elections to be held.

“With regard to the Central Election Commission (CEC) decision on holding elections in Mostar, we underscore that the CEC is bound by the Election Law of Bosnia and Herzegovina, including legally prescribed deadlines, as recently amended,” the letter said.

Covic had complained about the CEC decision to schedule the Mostar election for the end of December, more than a month after local elections elsewhere in the country. He said that decision was “contrary to our political agreement which had solved our general election problem.”

He called the decision an “unacceptable precedent” and asked for elections in Mostar to be held on the day elections are held everywhere else in Bosnia.

But the international officials insisted in their reply that the CEC decision was legal and that the CEC raised the issue of deadlines in its letter to the parliament on July 3 in vain.

“The CEC warned of the deadlines set out in the Election Law of BiH and asked the Joint Collegium to shorten these deadlines to pass authorization to the CEC to do this in the case of Mostar only,” the letter said.

“The amendments to the Election Law adopted on 8 July 2020 by the Parliamentary Assembly of BiH did not include a specific provision to deviate from this general rule. The CEC, therefore acted in line with the Law and it is important that the institution is not impeded in its function,” the foreign officials noted, welcoming the decision to hold elections in Mostar after 12 years.

“We trust that you, along with HDZ BiH members will engage constructively to ensure BiH citizens’ right to participate in elections, allocate funds to the CEC without delay, and to make continued concrete progress on the EU path,” the letter concluded.