Opposition Returns To The Streets In Bosnia's Serbian Entity, Claiming Election Fraud By Dodik


BANJA LUKA, Bosnia-Herzegovina -- Thousands of supporters of the opposition in the Serbian entity of Bosnia-Herzegovina have returned to the streets to protest the results of a recent presidential election, alleging fraud and demanding a recount.

The Party of Democratic Progress (PDP), the Serbian Democratic Party, (SDS), and the List for Justice and Order are demanding a recount of the votes for president amid reports of dozens of election irregularities.

The opposition parties in Republika Srpska, one of two entities of Bosnia-Herzegovina, say the candidate they backed, Jelena Trivic (PDP), defeated long-time nationalist leader Milorad Dodik in the October 2 election.

According to the results counted so far by the Central Election Commission, Dodik of the Alliance of Independent Social Democrats (SNSD), won about 281,000 votes in the race for the president of the entity. Trivic won around 252,000, or around 30,000 fewer votes.

The final results of the vote are yet to be announced. Citing reports of irregularities, central election authorities in Sarajevo have ordered the unsealing of ballot boxes and a recount at some 1,000 polling stations before determining the final totals.

Dodik, who has denied the election fraud allegations, has been the most powerful politician in Republika Srpska for years. He has close relations with Russian President Vladimir Putin, while the United States and Britain have sanctioned him for allegedly trying to undermine peace and stability in the country.

Bosnia has been governed by an administrative system created by the Dayton peace accords in 1995, which ended three years of war in the former Yugoslav republic marked by ethnic cleansing and brutality.

The U.S.-brokered accords created two highly autonomous entities that share some joint institutions: the Serb-dominated Republika Srpska and the Bosniak-Croat Federation. The country is governed and administered along ethnic lines established by the agreement, with a weak and often dysfunctional central government.

The accord also provides for the country to have a tri-party presidency, with the mostly Muslim Bosniaks, the ethnic Croatians, and ethnic Serbs each having a representative.

At the October 9 rally in Banja Luka – the capital of the Serbian entity -- Trivic said that the opposition is demanding a recount and a review of all ballots in the entity, along with a probe into possible vote-rigging.

“It wasn't me who was robbed, it was the people. We will not back down, we won't stop,” Trivic said.

With reporting by AP