BiH: Elections postponed, political games continue

BiH: Elections postponed, political games continue

The Alliance of the Independent Social Democrats (SNSD), the ruling party in Republika Srpska and leading Serb party in Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH), will file an appeal to the state Constitutional Court regarding the Central Election Committee’s decision to postpone the local elections for November 15. Previously, CEC BiH scheduled the local elections for October 4.

CEC BiH postponed the elections due to a lack of an agreement between state and entities, on the financing of the election process. The CEC BiH says that on May 7, when the local elections were called, the legal deadline of 15 days began, during which the competent institutions had to provide funds for the implementation of the elections.

“Given that the said deadline has expired, and that funds have not been provided, the Central Election Committee of BiH has applied the provisions of the Election Law of BiH”, the BiH CEC said in a statement.

Since the first signs that the elections might be postponed, SNSD expressed its opposition to this decision, declaring that the composition of CEC BiH is illegal and that its members were not selected in accordance with the law. But, after the announcement of the CEC BiH, SNSD Secretary-General, Luka Petrović, stated that “the prolongation of the elections is not the problem, but the disrespect of the law is”.

“They could have been postponed for a minimum of seven and a maximum of 30 days. We will initiate an assessment of the constitutionality and legality of the last act of the CEC. It is certainly not in accordance with the law, and as such the election results might be invalid”, Petrović said.

For OSCE Mission to BiH, the lack of financing is a political issue. In a statement, the Mission expresses its regret for the statements by BiH Presidency member Milorad Dodik (SNSD leader) and the President of the Croatian Democratic Union BiH (HDZ BiH), Dr Dragan Čović, for their disregard of democratic standards concerning the holding of elections.

“By conditioning the approval of resources necessary for holding the elections based on political disputes over the composition of the Central Election Commission (CEC), the authorities risk undermining the constitutional order and the functioning of democracy. Obstructing elections in this manner would violate the political rights of all BiH citizens. This would be contrary to BiH’s commitments as an OSCE participating State to organize and hold elections in line with international obligations and standards, including OSCE commitments”, is stressed in the statement.

The Mission calls on all parties to avoid politicizing the issue of the CEC, emphasizing that the institution is to be composed of highly qualified and impartial persons who are legally obligated to oversee the implementation of the BiH Election Law in a fully independent and impartial manner.

The Office of the High Representative to BiH remind all relevant bodies, including the Council of Ministers, the Presidency, and the Parliamentary Assembly of Bosnia and Herzegovina of their legal obligation to ensure adequate financing for the elections.

“That would enable the CEC to carry out all necessary preparations for the conduct and holding of local elections in a smooth and timely fashion with the aim to enable citizens in BiH to exercise their guaranteed rights under the BiH Constitution. It is of crucial importance that institutions on all levels fully cooperate with the CEC as is legally required to carry out this core democratic function in BiH”, OHR stressed./ibna