Mostarís Elections Valid,
Says European Union
Votes from refugees in Bonn
invalidated after Croat objections
ZAGREB, July 7 (Reuters) - The European Union administration for Mostar has declared valid Bosnia's first post-war election -- held in the ethnically divided city on June 30 -- despite complaints of irregularities at one polling station abroad. The decision was announced on Sunday, four days after the local Croat-Muslim electoral commission had accepted a Croat objection that there were 26 more ballots than actual voters in Bonn, where around 4,000 turned out. As a consequence, the votes from Bonn were annulled.
Mostarians in exile in Germany, Switzerland, Sweden and Norway were allowed to join in the vote for a unified city administration. The ruling Muslim SDA party won a landslide victory over the separatist Croat HDZ party in overseas voting.
But the EU's chief-of-staff in the city, Martin Garrod, told Reuterss that Safet Orucevic, Mostar's Muslim mayor and SDA leader, later demanded that the Bonn results be accepted and the EU-appointed city ombudsman, Constantine Zepos, agreed. "The results (of voting) now stand," Garrod said. "We are now waiting for the formal announcement of the results." The pro-unification SDA, whose slate included some Serbs and Croats in a coalition named "For a unified Mostar," wielded a narrow majority over the HDZ in the city council, mainly due to the overseas results.
The HDZ, which wants to form a unified Croat municipality on the West side of the city, won almost 26,000 votes over the SDA's 22,300 in voting in Mostar, where many people had to cross former frontlines to cast their ballots. But the overseas returns gave the SDA about 6,000 votes compared to 744 for the HDZ. The SDA will thus have at least 19 seats in the 37-member city council.
Mostar's Croats and Muslims fought viciously for nine months in battles which destroyed much of the ancient Ottoman city. They later formed a loose federation but the town remained split in half with the Neretva river as the frontline. Political analysts believe the voting in Mostar, which represents a test case for countrywide elections planned for September and a stimulus for the fragile Croat-Muslim federation, would not bridge the ethnic gap because it effectively left the city divided in two municipalities.
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Berserkistan, June 27 · Sundayís Elections in Mostar: Flawed but Safe, Hopes EU
Berserkistan, June 27 · Returning Refugee Finds Mostar on Edge, Mistrustful
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