More than 200 cars formed a convoy and drove down the streets of Sarajevo on Saturday, honking in support of their beloved mayoral candidate Bogic Bogicevic, who withdrew from the race after he became the subject of political bickering in the City Council.
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, standing by his earlier decision to pull out from the race.
Ulicama Sarajeva, protestna voznja. Vise od 200 automobila. “Nebitni ljudi nam odlucuju o gradonacelniku. Zelimo direktan izbor. I da se Bogicevic predomisli”, kazu ucesnici @N1infoSA pic.twitter.com/83xihSwM32
— Adisa Imamovic (@adisa_imamovic) March 27, 2021
The vote was “completely pointless,” Bogicevic wrote.
“Two days ago, I publicly and IRREVOCABLY withdrew my candidacy and informed both the proposer and the public about it. An IRREVOCABLE withdrawal means a final decision, which cannot be discussed any further,” he wrote.
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.
“Irrelevant people are deciding who will be our mayor. We want a direct vote. And we want Bogicevic to change his mind,” the participants said.
Bogicevic is widely seen as a moral authority in BiH since he resisted to nationalist pressure before the war in former Yugoslavia. Specifically, it was his rejection at a historic 1991 session of the Yugoslav collective presidency to allow the body to declare a state of emergency which would allow the army to take control of the country.
His was the swinging vote supporters of the decision were counting on.
His statement “I am a Serb, but not by profession,” that followed his decision only sealed his reputation as a firm non-nationalist.
His withdrawal from the mayoral post angered Sarajevans, who blamed the members of the City Council for it, accusing them of dishonesty.