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$50 Million Needed for Bosnia Elections
By Philippe Naughton

GENEVA, April 19 (Reuters) — Former Danish foreign minister Uffe Ellemann-Jensen has been asked to raise $50 million from international donors to finance Bosnia's first post-war elections, due by mid-September. Officials of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), which was charged with organizing the elections by the Dayton peace accord, said on Friday that the overall cost of the operation would be $153 million. Most of that would be met by the Bosnians themselves or by European countries hosting hundreds of thousands of refugees who might be forced to vote from abroad.

Foreign Minister Flavio Cotti of Switzerland, which now holds the OSCE's rotating presidency, has asked Ellemann-Jensen to raise the rest, some $50 million. "It's one of those demands you cannot refuse," Ellemann-Jensen told a news conference after an OSCE coordination meeting in Geneva. "Two very important things are at stake here. Elections are a very important element in the whole Dayton construct and also for the future credibility of the OSCE. This is by far the biggest task that the OSCE has taken upon itself."

The elections should be held by September 14, nine months after the Dayton pact was signed in Paris on December 14. Robert Frowick, a retired U.S. diplomat who heads the OSCE mission in Bosnia, said he would have to decide in June whether enough progress had been made in implementing the peace accord to allow a two-month election campaign. Frowick told the news conference that Bosnians would have to vote in seven different elections, all held on the same day, for national, regional and local representatives. "This is the most complex election process in all history, in my opinion," he said.

He said the OSCE hoped to create a Bosnia-wide television channel and a radio network which would give equal time to all candidates and parties, to counter propaganda in other Bosnian media. Potential opposition parties in Bosnia have criticized the OSCE's electoral commission for deciding that parties standing at municipal level would have to provide a list of 500 supporters and those entering the main presidential elections would need 10,000 signatures. Frowick said the commission had agreed to reduce the figure for local elections, although he did not say by how much, but the figure for nationwide elections would remain.

Additional resources
Apr 17 · Bosnian Media Network Unlikely by Election Time
Apr 16 · Renegade Muslim Leader in Bosnian Elections
Apr 15 · Serbs Said Undermining Bosnian Elections

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