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Bosnia calls election for Oct. 2 amid political tensions

May 4, 2022 GMT

SARAJEVO, Bosnia-Herzegovina (AP) — Bosnia will hold a presidential and parliamentary ballot on Oct. 2 amid ethnic tensions and a row over an election reform.

The state election authorities on Wednesday scheduled the vote despite demands from Bosnian Croats that the new election rules be agreed upon first.

Bosnia consists of two semi-autonomous regions: a Bosnian Serb-dominated entity and a joint Bosniak-Croat one. The two are bound together by joint central institutions and all important decisions must be backed jointly.

The complicated network of institutions was established in a peace agreement in 1995 that ended Bosnia’s ethnic war, which killed more than 100,000 people and displaced millions.

Bosnian Croats have since claimed discrimination in the entity with the Bosniaks, who are mostly Muslims. Croat officials and Croatia have demanded that the voting system be changed to make sure that Bosnian Croats alone choose Croat representatives.

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Bosniak officials have denied the claims but talks on the election reform have been stuck. Bosnian Croat politician Dragan Covic warned in a letter that calling the election in such a situation presents a “threat to peace,” the regional N1 television reported.

Bosnian authorities also have yet to secure funding for the October ballot.

Some 3.3 million voters will choose the three members of Bosnia’s multi-ethnic presidency, the central Bosnian and the parliaments of the two entities, as well as the president and vice-president of Republika Srpska, the Serb-run entity.

Tensions between Bosnia’s ethnic groups have been simmering since the 1992-95 war. There have been fears that the war in Ukraine could trigger conflict in the volatile Balkan country where Bosnian Serbs maintain close links with Russia.