ICG Press Release

Hrair Balian (100034.2220@CompuServe.COM)
04 Dec 96 07:01:35 EST

International Crisis Group
Obala Kulina Bana, 29
Sarajevo, BiH
phone/fax: 387 71 447 845



4 December 1996

ICG Cautions Against Further Electoral Engineering in the Run-up to the
Municipal Elections

Sarajevo - The OSCE announced on 1 December that an Agreement on Local Elections
was signed by the authorities of Bosnia and Herzegovina and its two entities
extending the OSCE mandate through 1997. The agreement invites the OSCE to
"supervise the preparation and conduct of elections for the municipal governing
authorities" on the basis of the provisions of Annex 3 to the Dayton Peace
Agreement (DPA).

ICG is concerned with statements made by OSCE officials that displaced persons
will be allowed to register to vote in a municipality of intended future
residence upon presentation of evidence proving some connection with the locale,
including an invitation from "blood relatives" or an employment offer. The OSCE
plans to set up a Committee of the Provisional Election Commission (PEC) to
establish whether voters have "genuine" ties to the municipality where they
intend to live.

Hrair Balian, Director of the ICG Bosnia Project, said "the price for Republika
Srpska to sign this agreement seems too high. Why should blood relatives be
able to invite voters to cast their ballots in such an arbitrary manner? How
could an offer of employment serve as proof of intended place of future
residence? This is simply absurd and open to abuse on a massive scale. Im
afraid we will see an enormous increase of offers for employment by the
authorities of Republika Srpska. If voters are allowed to cast their ballots
where they please or where they are told to vote, the massive electoral
engineering we witnessed during the 14 September poll will be repeated. Only
this time, the impact will be far more serious."

ICG is also informed that a confidential Memorandum of Understanding has been
signed with the 1 December agreement, spelling out the conditions for Republika
Srpskas agreement to extend the OSCE mandate. ICG is concerned that the
Memorandum contains provisions which are contrary to the DPA, especially in view
of Republika Srpskas announcement on the same date to boycott the Brcko
arbitration, and their attempt during the 14 September poll to pack strategic
places like Brcko and Srebrenica with voters who had no connection with the

ICG calls on the OSCE and the PEC to reject all attempts to repeat the electoral
engineering exercise of the 14 September poll, and disallow any registration of
voters in a municipality of intended residence.

ICG is a multinational non-governmental organisation which is monitoring the
implementation of the Dayton Peace Agreement. For further information, contact
ICG in Sarajevo at 447 845.