Bosnia's international envoy imposes decision on financing general election

·2-min read
FILE PHOTO: Christian Schmidt, European Union High Representative for Bosnia and Herzegovina, attends an exhibition at Srebrenica Genocide Memorial

SARAJEVO (Reuters) - Bosnia's international envoy Christian Schmidt has imposed a decision on financing the general election on Oct. 2 after the central government failed to allocate sufficient funding for conducting the vote, he said on Tuesday.

"It is obvious to me that planned allocation is neither sufficient nor implementable," Schmidt, a former German politician, told a news conference. "It is urgent to make sure that elections can be conducted in due time."

Under the Dayton peace deal that ended Bosnia's 1992-95 war, the international High Representative is the ultimate interpreter of the constitution which is part of the peace accord and may change laws and sack obstructive officials.

In early May, the state electorate commission (CIK) called the presidential and parliamentary elections for Oct. 2, notifying authorities it needed 12.5 million Bosnian marka ($6.8 million) to start preparations by mid-May at the latest.

After much delay, the central government on Monday agreed to lend it 9.7 million marka.

Following its devastating war between the Bosnian Serbs, Croats and Bosniaks, Bosnia was split into two autonomous regions, the Federation dominated by Bosniaks and Croats and the Serb-dominated Serb Republic, linked via a weak central government.

The decision on financing the vote had been obstructed by Serb and Croat politicians, with the latter unhappy that changes to the election law, which would give them exclusive rights to choose their political representatives, have not been accepted.

Finance Minister Vjekoslav Bevanda of the Croats' largest HDZ party had cited procedural reasons for delaying the funding. On Monday, he said the government would lend CIK 9.7 million marka to organise the vote, declining to give reasons for why the amount was less than requested.

Schmidt said he issued an order that the amount initially required would be allocated to CIK, effectively replacing the previous government decision and introducing a systemic solution for similar situations in future.

"I ... encourage all in this country to find a consent that election is not donations of the parties to the people but the basic right of the people to vote and present their opinion," Schmidt said.

(Reporting by Daria Sito-Sucic; Editing by Ed Osmond)