Party leaders: High Rep gave us another chance to agree on electoral reform

NEWS 27.07.2022 16:07
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Source: N1

Representatives of political parties who participated in a meeting with the High Representative said the international official decided to give them a chance to reach an agreement on electoral reform and confirmed he will only impose measures concerning the integrity of the electoral process on Wednesday.

Last week, N1 broke the story that, according to diplomatic sources, High Representative Christian Schmidt plans to use his ‘Bonn Powers’ to impose measures to secure the re-functioning of Bosnia’s Federation (FBiH) by August 1. The draft decision contains changes to the Election Law.

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While Schmidt’s plan was welcomed by Bosnian Croat political parties, most notably the Croat Democratic Union (HDZ BiH), opponents argue the changes would lead to further systematic divisions in the country based on ethnicity.

The decision prompted thousands of Bosnians to protest in front of the Office of the High Representative.

On the third day of the protests, Schmidt met with the leaders of political parties in FBiH.

Meanwhile, N1 learned from several diplomatic sources that Schmidt decided to only impose technical changes to the BiH Election Law, while the other measures he intended to impose with his Bonn powers will remain pending.

The leader of the Social Democratic Party (SDP), Nermin Niksic, said that Schmidt asked the party representatives to work on overcoming hate speech and finding solutions for those issues that will not be included in his decision on Wednesday.

“It was also clearly stated that he does not give up the possibility of imposing a decision once he determines that a lot of time has been spent without an agreement. I don't know how much time it is,” Niksic said, adding that he believes the High Representative is likely to pass extensive electoral reform if no agreement is reached in autumn, after the October 2 elections.

“I am satisfied with the fact that we have not and will not have a decision of the High representative that will introduce new discrimination and division in BiH and for now it is based only on the transparency of the election process. That decision will be made today,” he said.

The leader of Nasa Stranka (Our Party), Predrag Kojovic, said that he was “impressed” by the High Representative, whom he described as someone “who has very good intentions towards Bosnia and Herzegovina.”

“I think that the decision he made today to only pass technical changes is very wise at this moment”, he said.

Elmedin Konakovic, the leader of the People and Justice (Narod i Pravda) party, said that all the developments on the political scene regarding this issue are the result of an agreement between the Party of Democratic Action (SDA) and the Croat Democratic Union (HDZ BiH).

“We should not disregard his previous decisions that were beneficial for us,” Konakovic said.

Legal expert Alma Colo represented the SDA at the meeting with Schmidt.

The party issued a statement sayings that the solutions that appeared in the media, which include an increase in the number of delegates for the election of the president of the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina from six to eight, the introduction of a 3 percent threshold and the abolition of the 1991 census as a reference, are unacceptable, and such solutions will not be acceptable even in possible future negotiations.

“Such solutions would not solve the problem of unblocking the Federation, but would enable new blockades. Meanwhile, a threshold of 3 percent would deepen ethnic divisions and introduce new discrimination against constituent peoples who are minorities in certain cantons. Applying the census from 2013 to the quotas for the election of delegates to the House of Peoples and simultaneously retaining the census from 1991 for the distribution of functions in the executive power, would further upset the balance to the detriment of Bosniaks,” the statement said.

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