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Bosnia's peace envoy hopes for electoral reform before 2022 vote

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By Reuters
Bosnia's peace envoy hopes for electoral reform before 2022 vote
Bosnia's peace envoy hopes for electoral reform before 2022 vote   -   Copyright  Thomson Reuters 2021

BERLIN – Bosnia’s international peace envoy said he supported electoral reform that would bring the country closer to European Union standards, and hoped for an agreement on such changes ahead of elections in October next year.

The country’s three ethnic groups – Croats, Muslims and Serbs – are still divided by religion, tribal identity and politics 25 years after a U.S-brokered peace deal ended a war that killed 100,000. Its political system is paralysed.

“It would be good if it (the change of the election law) happens in time before the election in October 2022,” the international high representative in Bosnia, Christian Schmidt, told Reuters, referring to changes towards equal and democratic rights for all citizens.

“Rulings of the European Court of Human Rights have not been implemented – such as the famous Sejdic-Finci ruling which states that it cannot be that someone who does identify neither as Croat, Serb or Bosniak cannot stand for election as president. This has to be changed,” Schmidt said.

His office oversees the implementation of the 1995 Dayton peace agreement that ended Bosnia’s 1992-95 war. Schmidt, a former German minister, noted that the current law does not fulfil international requirements, including court rulings.

Commenting on Bosnian Croats’ complaints that the law does not guarantee equal representation to all three constituent ethnicities in Bosnia – Croats, Serbs and Bosniaks – Schmidt referred to the Dayton agreement which created two entities, one comprising Bosniaks and Croats, the other the Serbs.

“The Dayton agreement states very clearly that there is no third entity, and that’s the basis for my work,” he said. “As for how to reflect regional or ethnic specifics in this law: That’s a task for those working on the new law.”

Bosnia’s three communities have frequently been at odds in recent years.