Analysis: Central Electoral Commission’s Work and 2018 General Elections

Since 2002 Central Electoral Commission (CEC) has carried out elections and implemented election results at all levels of authority in Bosnia and Herzegovina independently and without the interference of foreign officials. However, numerous deficiencies and unresolved doubts were detected in practice. It is a known fact that CEC members are exponents of political parties and certain centres of power. Being engaged in politicking and supporting their political sponsors they often go beyond the constitutional and legal framework. A recent affair has revealed that 35.8 tons of paper purchased for printing ballot papers disappeared from the warehouse of the Central Election Commission. There were many cases when CEC members, including its president Irena Hadžiabdić, held unauthorised and secret meetings with certain actors involved in the election process and other interested individuals, which points to the question whether the existing members of the CEC are capable of conducting a legal, transparent and fair election.

Even though the new Election Law was still not passed, CEC and its leader  Hadžiabdić were ready to adopt the decision on dividing the mandates for the House of Peoples of the Federation of BiH in order to satisfy Dragan Čović’s (HDZ) desire to adopt the so called Lex Čović discriminative law. This would ensure his re-election as the Croat member of BiH Presidency and enable him to select the delegates for the House of Peoples of the Federation of BiH according to his preferences or the preferences of HDZ.

CEC’s task should be to deal with numerous anomalies and cases of discrimination in the election process, such as the unbalanced number of voters in constituencies regarding the election of House of Representatives of the Parliamentary Assembly of Bosnia and Herzegovina. CEC has been involved in numerous irregularities and dubious activities

Why CEC doesn’t deal with issues such as the elimination of asymmetry between the roles and competences of entity presidents and vice-presidents? Why it doesn’t ensure the second round of elections for members of BiH Presidency, bearing in mind that a large number of candidates may lead to the election of a Presidency member who has only received 20% of votes from the electorate. The same applies to the election of mayors, which does not enable the second round. It should be ensured that the three key functions in the entities (i.e. the entity  president, the entity prime minister and the speaker of the entity parliament) are held by persons from three different ethnic communities. The BiH election law is discriminatory, which has also been confirmed by the European Court of Human Rights in its judgements in Sejdić-Finci, Pilav and Zornić cases. One cannot run as a candidate for BiH Presidency member unless they belong to one of the so-called constitutive nations (Bosniaks, Serbs and Croats). Moreover, in the House of Peoples there is no parity principle in the representation of delegates who do not belong to the constitutive nations. It is discriminatory that for members of BiH Presidency only Bosniaks and Croats can be elected from the Federation and only Serbs from Republika Srpska.

CEC even adopted the decision in which it approved that Serbian Radical Party – dr. Vojislav Šešelj may run in election despite the fact that the party’s name contains the name of the finally convicted war criminal Vojislav Šešelj. This also puts under question the role of the High Representative for Bosnia and Herzegovina (OHR) Valentin Inzko, who failed to intervene by adopting the decision to prohibit legal and political entities from bearing the names of convicted war criminals. Analysts believe that OHR should have adopted such a decision which would stipulate the withdrawal of civil liberties and rights to persons who were convicted of war crimes and genocide by a final judgement both by ICTY and BiH courts, as well as any other court in the world. For example, in the USA, persons convicted of the most serious crimes are withdrawn their civil liberties and rights. Bosnia and Herzegovina should follow that example in order to establish the truth, achieve justice and reach reconciliation in this country which still suffers the grave consequences of the armed international conflict in its territory during the 1992-1995 period.

CEC decisions may be contested through the Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina, which is together with the BiH Prosecutor’s Office controlled by their political sponsors and thus caught in the vicious circle of political and other powers in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

(Source: ifimes)

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