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Bosnia's first census - the battle to redefine its ethnic balance.

Bosnia and Herzegovina

Bosnia's first census - the battle to redefine its ethnic balance.

Bosnia is holding its first census since independence.

What would elsewhere pass as a dull bureaucratic procedure, in Bosnia is highly charged.

The country was previously torn apart by ethnic conflict. And its government is constituted according to a system of ethnic quotas in which only Serb, Croat and Bosniak count.

It is unwieldy and Darko Brkan from the pressure group “A Citizen Above All” opposes it.

He says that the aim of the campaign is to use the census as a tool to protest against ethnic discrimination in the country.

Territory and power in Bosnia is split between the country’s Serbs, Croats and Bosniaks. No mention of the significant Jewish or Roma populations who in the census fall under the category, “other”.

One pensioner from Sarajevo said that if she is to be honest, she is part of the “others” group. “If I declare differently, it would be against my feelings,” she said.

If enough people define themselves as “other” it could put pressure on leaders to change the constitution – shifting Bosnia’s balance of power towards the ethnic groups that are currently unrecognised.

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