Sunday, 7 October 2012

Local elections across BiH; more controversy in Srebrenica

Srebrenica is, once again, the centre of attention across BiH.
As citizens across all of Bosnia and Herzegovina took to polling booths today in local elections, most of the  nation's attention has focussed on a bitter electoral dispute in the municipality of Srebrenica.

Much division has been caused across the country after electoral processes were altered in Srebrenica - which not only removed voting rights from Bosnian Muslims (Bosniaks) previously expelled from the area, but also allowed for local Serbians to run for office for the first time since the town's infamous genocide 17 years ago.
In July 1995, Bosnian Serb forces killed more than 8,000 Bosniak men and boys in Srebrenica, and expelled the remainder of the Muslim population.

Until today, the expelled had the right to vote in Srebrenica despite living elsewhere. New rules, however, stipulate that only those living in the town may now vote.

Furthermore, the municipality's mayoral position has been opened up to local Serbian candidates wishing to be elected.

Srebrenica is part of Bosnia's autonomous Serb Republic, whose president, Milorad Dodik, has repeatedly denied that genocide took place.

Many Bosniaks across the nation are concerned that, if one of Dodik's mayoral candidates wins into office in Srebrenica, efforts to keep alive the memory of the 1995 crime will be jeopardised. 

"This is not about the two ethnic groups," said Camil Durakovic, one of the Bosniak candidates for mayor. "This is about two groups of the Bosnian citizens - those who recognise the genocide and those who deny it."

The mayor and local council elected in Srebrenica will be responsible for the mass memorial complex at Potocari - built to remember the victims of the massacre - amongst other things.

Today's elections were conducted in 136 municipalities across BiH, and are the first to take place in the country since the general elections of 2010. In that year, it took 15 months before the winners of those polls managed to form a government.

Hopefully, for all involved, these elections will be a little bit simpler. 

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