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Sunday, November 23, 1997 Published at 06:44 GMT


Bosnian Serb vote struggles on
image: [ The international community is carefully monitoring the Bosnian election ]
The international community is carefully monitoring the Bosnian election

International observers are hoping for a higher turn-out on the second day of voting in parliamentary elections in the Serb-run part of Bosnia.

Voting on on Saturday passed peacefully in the Bosnian Serb republic. But only 20% of the electorate visited a polling station, according to local media reports.

Johan Verheydan, a spokesman for the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) which is supervising the polls, said: "The turnout was slightly lower than expected and we appeal to voters to cast their ballots Sunday, on the second day of the vote."

But a leading Serb hardliner, Momcilo Krajisnik, attacked the elections, saying they had been "imposed" by the international community.

"The people are angry and bitter because, at the moment where we should all be working to stabilising the situation in the Republika Srpska, we are being forced to take part in this vote," said Mr Krajisnik.

[ image: Radovan Karadzic is still admired by many]
Radovan Karadzic is still admired by many
The two-day poll to elect a new parliament is the latest stage in a bitter power struggle between the Bosnian Serb president, Biljana Plavsic, and supporters of her predecessor, Radovan Karadzic, who is wanted for war crimes.

More than 1,500 international monitors are observing ballot stations during the election. The vote will elect 83 MPs through a system of proportional representation.

The final result will not be known for more than two weeks. The vote could decide the future of the peace process in Bosnia-Hercegovina.

Electoral misconduct?

Local radio reports say that the problem of registered voters who are not on the electoral roll has not been resolved.

In Brcko, a disputed town in northern Bosnia, the election committee held talks with representatives of the OSCE.

According to the report, Teodor Gavric, the chairman of the election commission in Brcko, said that many citizens are not on the electoral roll for Brcko, even though they were properly registered and voted in the local elections in September.

"I must say that if an appropriate solution is not found, and if these people are prevented from voting, the parliamentary elections in Brcko will come into question," he said.

Mirko Jovic, the head of the Serb Democratic Party (SDS), which supports Mr Karadzic, also warned on Saturday that election committees have been turning back approximately two-thirds of the voters who failed to produce the required documents.

Plavsic versus Karadzic

The split dividing Republika Srpska is both political and geographical.

[ image: Biljiana Plavsic: wants a clear mandate from the people of Republika Srpska]
Biljiana Plavsic: wants a clear mandate from the people of Republika Srpska
Although Mr Karadzic was forced to abandon public life last year, he still wields huge influence.

Opposing his hardline followers are the supporters of the Mrs Plavsic. She dissolved parliament because it refused to accept her dismissal of senior minister whom she accused of corruption.

Both Mr Karadzic and Mrs Plavsic possess their respective strongholds in the two halves of Serb-held territory joined only by a small land corridor and a fragile peace agreement signed two years ago.

Western countries leading the international peacekeeping effort in Bosnia-Hercegovina regard Mrs Plavsic as a relative moderate who supports the peace process.

Her hardline nationalist opponents control the outgoing parliament, but a BBC correspondent at their stronghold, Pale, says the voters there seem to have mixed loyalties.

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