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P R E S S   R E L E A S E

For immediate release : 22 October, 1996

ICG Welcomes Postponement of Municipal Elections

The International Crisis Group (ICG) welcomes the Provisional Election Commission´┐Żs (PEC) decision to postpone to next Spring municipal elections scheduled for 23-24 November. This decision reflects a consensus among the international community as well as a number of political parties in Bosnia and Herzegovina that effective municipal elections cannot be organised in the short time available.

The ICG hopes that the international community will urgently use the leverages available to secure an agreement from the Governments of the two entities and extend the OSCE mandate to supervise and organise the municipal elections next Spring.

The ICG also hopes that the interval until next Spring will be used to improve not only the technical preparation for the elections but also the political conditions. In particular, the organisation of the elections must be improved to ensure the presence of well trained international observers and opposition party as well as minority representatives at every polling station at all times during the poll; the chain of custody of ballots in transit to counting centres must be secured and documented properly; the supervision of the counting process must be improved; the PEC Rules and Regulations must be amended to provide for repeat polling in municipalities where significant irregularities occur; and electoral engineering which occurred during the registration period for the 14 September poll must be reversed and any further abuse must be forestalled. Significant progress must also be made in creating the conditions necessary to hold effective municipal elections next Spring. Inroads must be made in creating the politically neutral environment called for by the Dayton Peace Agreement, in the first place, by detaining indicted war criminals. A credible start must be made in the repatriation and reintegration of displaced persons, and the freedom of movement must be improved significantly. In addition, opposition and minority political parties must be able to exercise their freedom of expression and assembly without fear or risk throughout the country.

For further information contact ICG Bosnia on +38-771-447-115 or call
Charles Radcliffe on 0171-630-5673. Alternatively, you can send e-mail here

The International Crisis Group is a private, multinational organisation created to reinforce the capacity and resolve of the international community to prevent crises arising from human causes. Members of the ICG board include former heads of state and government, foreign ministers, MPs and leading figures in business and the media. ICG is chaired by the former US Senate majority leader, George Mitchell.

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