Following a protest drive Sarajevo citizens organised in his support, Bogic Bogicevic, who withdrew from the mayoral race after he became the subject of political bickering, said he would not accept the post even though he was elected to it as “nothing good can come” of working with Sarajevo’s City Council as it is.
More than 200 cars formed a convoy and drove down the streets of Sarajevo on Saturday, honking in support of Bogicevic.
Bogicevic, a Bosnian Serb and a pre-war politician beloved in Sarajevo for his rejection of nationalist politics that led to the war, rejected his unanimous election to the Sarajevo mayoral post on Friday in a letter to the Chairman of the City Council, Jasmin Ademovic.
His decision came after what he saw as “political games” being played during a previous session of the City Council, when an anonymous vote produced no candidate although the fraction that proposed him as mayor had the majority.
Bogicevic said he saw this kind of disunity as a message that he is not wanted for the position.
Nearly 30,000 people have since then signed a petition and expressed support for their desired mayor. Giant billboards displaying his photo with the message “You are our mayor,” popped up in the city and participants in Saturday’s protest drive now demand a change in the election law so they can directly elect their mayor.
However, despite the enormous support, Bogicevic will not take over the post.
“Dear fellow citizens, I am honoured by the enormous support you have given to my candidacy for mayor of Sarajevo. I am also pleased with the fact that you have directed some of your protest activities, as you said yourself, against the bad, in many ways criminal policy that has been pursued in our city for years and in which the citizens have been put on the back-burner,” Bogicvic’s statement began.
He explained that he accepted the candidacy for the post wishing to “contribute towards changing that situation and making at least some progress” in Bosnia’s capital.
“Unfortunately, already on the first step, I was met by political intrigues, tricks and manipulations, the goal of which was to prevent me from being elected to the mentioned position,” he said.
He said the worst thing about it is that those who proposed him for the post were involved in efforts to stop him from becoming mayor when it came to voting.
“Like you, I was appalled to learn of the dirty trades within the city government, that people and their votes are bought and sold. Withdrawing my candidacy was for me the only honourable response to those attempts to humiliate me both as a human and politically,” Bogicevic said.
He added that when city councillors later “changed their minds” and unanimously elected him for the post, it represented nothing more than a “show for the public,” organised by those who prevented his election in the first place.
“I withdrew my candidacy with a heavy heart, primarily having in mind your publicly expressed massive support. But believe me, nothing good could be expected in further cooperation with such a City Council, where there are some councillors prone to trading in votes. The mayor is largely dependent and limited by the decisions and policies of that council,” Bogicevic explained.
He asked citizens to understand why he made the decision to withdraw and called on them to continue to express their dissatisfaction with policies and decisions which “prevent the recovery and progress” of Bosnia’s society.