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Urgently resolve the issue of Election Law, without new forms of discrimination

Text: Fedzad Forto

SARAJEVO, February 4 (FENA) - The international community is carefully observing the situation regarding the Election Law and is quite worried, especially because of the threat to implementation of the results of the general elections that should be held in October this year.

Author: Fedžad Forto

“We want to avoid the crisis and therefore we are not only appealing to the political leaders to adopt the necessary electoral reforms, but to engage in talks with political parties in order to reach consensus, i.e. the solutions with broader political support,” FENA learns from its exclusive sources from an interview conducted on the issue of the Election law from international officials who wished to remain anonymous.

They do not see anything inevitable in the Election Law. They think politicians are responsible and able to find a solution. It takes the responsibility and understanding of domestic politicians to come to a solution. There is time for a solution, but politicians need to work with a sense of urgency, to seek common ground and reach a consensus.

“Every solution that is to be achieved must have broad support, and there is plenty of time until May, when the Central Election Commission will announce the elections,” the international officials underlined.

Therefore, they want to see rapid action, and they emphasize that the key element is compromise.

"No side will come to a perfect solution, the solution that they want, but that is the nature of politics," one official said, adding that all parties should work in that spirit in order to reach a solution that would allow the implementation of election results.

Representatives of the international community have observed that several parties have submitted their proposals for amendments to the Election Law, but they say that they have never sought a common ground. Therefore, they state that we need to see political parties working together in order to carry out election results.

They also warn that we must have BiH citizens in mind, because they deserve to have elections, whose results will be implemented and for them to be able to trust those results.

In the past, international representatives have had a number of meetings with political parties on the reform of the Electoral Law. FENA’s interlocutors say they saw that the parties understand the urgency of the problem and have the desire to find a solution, but that there is no trust among the political parties. All parties also fear that they will be attacked if they offer a compromise, which then slows down the process and makes it difficult to find a solution.

In the previous period, lobbying of party representatives was something that was noticed in Brussels, Washington and elsewhere regarding amendments to the Election Law. International officials stress that this issue will not be resolved in Brussels, Washington or elsewhere.

“The solution must be found here in the country,” they say explicitly.

They also emphasize that during all these meetings, they urged the politicians to return to the country and seek a solution, as this is the only way to achieve something sustainable, which has broader support and is in the interest of the citizens of this country.

One of the priorities, as they stressed, is that no new forms of discrimination are to be introduced in the new legislation.

“First of all, none of these things is new. The parties have many ideas for solving the problem. It is very important for us to respect the decision of the Constitutional Court of BiH in the Ljubić case. The decisions of the Constitutional Court must be taken seriously, but the parties have to secure a framework for the elections to be held in free and fair terms,” they said.

They say that there are many examples to refer to. For example, 17 European countries have an upper house of the parliament, but the problem is not in the lack of options, but in the lack of political will.

Asked about the judgments of the European Court of Human Rights in the Sejdić and Finci case and in the Pilav case, representatives of the international community say that a clear message was sent from Strasbourg last week to resolve these cases that have been postponed for a long time.

“These are serious issues that should have been solved a long time ago. However, there is a risk of entering the elections and for the results not to be able to be implemented. It's an emergency situation. We expect the political parties to focus on this immediate risk. We would like to see that the issues of the City of Mostar or the Serb Caucus in the FBiH Parliament to be resolved, but the most urgent issue is the House of Peoples of the FBiH Parliament.

Still, they warn that the solutions must not deviate from the European standards, that is, they must not lead to new forms of discrimination on the basis of ethnicity, place of residence, etc.

Asked if they believe that the job would be completed by May 2018, they say that it is a matter of political will and that there is still enough time.

Finally, the international officials emphasize the importance of resolving the issue of the election law in order to accelerate the country's path towards the EU and NATO.

“If it is possible to find a solution within the country itself, it would be an excellent signal that the country is ready to move forward on its path to the European Union and NATO. This is an opportunity that should not be missed,” emphasized the international officials in an interview with FENA.