Strasbourg, 14 November 2002

CG/Bur (9) 58

Report on the general elections in Bosnia and Herzegovina (5 October 2002)

Rapporteur: Mr. Keith WHITMORE (United Kingdom)

---------------------------

Document adopted by the Bureau of the Congress
on 13 November 2002

Introduction

The Minister for Foreign Affairs of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Dr Zlatko Lagumdzija, invited the Congress, in a letter dated 11 September 2002, to observe the General elections held in the two entities of Bosnia and Herzegovina on 5 October 2002. The Congress was more specifically invited to observe the elections for the House of Representatives and the Cantonal Assemblies of the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina, for the President and vice-President of the Republika Srpska; for the National Assembly of the Republika Srpska; and for the Municipal Council of Zepce in the RS. The national elections were observed by the Council of Europe's Parliamentary Assembly, the European Parliament, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe and the OSCE's Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR).

At its meeting of 19 September 2002, the Bureau of the Congress decided to send an observer delegation comprising Mr Keith Whithmore (United Kingdom, R), Head of Delegation, Mrs Suvi Rihtniemi (Finland, R), Mr Joseph Borg (Malta, R), Dr Martin Haas (Switzerland, L), Mr Slobodan Kovacevski (“The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia”, L) and Mr Kristof Varga (Hungary, R), accompanied by Mr Giampaolo Cordiale and Mr Olivier Terrien from the Congress' Secretariat.

The Congress wishes to express its thanks to Dr Igor Gaon, Permanent Representative of Bosnia and Herzegovina to the Council of Europe, and his staff for their help in preparing this mission. Dr Gaon's support was highly appreciated, especially as he arranged meetings between the Congress' Delegation and Mr Milovan Blagojevic, Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs of Bosnia and Herzegovina, as well as with the members of the Bosnian Delegation to the CLRAE. These were Mr Dragan Peric, President of the Municipal Assembly of Bijeljina in Republika Srpska, Mr Neven Tomic, Mayor of Mostar, Mr Yasmin Imamovic, Mayor of Tuzla, Mr Slavisa Sucur, Member of the House of Representatives of the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina and Mrs Nevenka Trifkovic, member of the People's Assembly of the Republika Srpska.

The Congress worked in close co-operation with the Election Observation Mission appointed by the OSCE/ODIHR. The Congress wishes also to express its thanks to the OSCE/ODHIR EOM (Election Observation Mission), in particular to Mr Peter Eicher, Head of the EOM, Mr Andrew Bruce and Mr Nicola Kaczorowski, OSCE Election advisors and all the OSCE/ODIHR staff for their very competent and useful support.

The Council of Europe's delegation took part in a series of preparatory meetings organised, prior to the elections, by the OSCE/ODIHR at the Holiday Inn Hotel in Sarajevo. On those occasions, an overview of the political situation of the country and of the electoral procedures was provided by various Representatives including Mr Peter Eicher, Head of the EOM, Mrs Doris Pack, Head of the European Parliamentary Delegation and Lord Paddy Ashdown, High Representative. Mr Keith Whitmore, Head of the Congress' Delegation was also given the opportunity to take the floor. Meetings with various representatives of the main political parties standing for the elections, of the media and of the NGOs involved in these elections were also organised. Finally, Mr Lidija Korac, President of the Electoral Commission (EC) made a full and very comprehensive presentation of the successes and difficulties encountered by her Commission.

OSCE/ODIHR had gathered more than five hundred short and long-term observers (STOs and LTOs), not representing any elected body, many of whom were domestic observers, as well as other observers from the European Parliament, the Council of Europe's Parliamentary Assembly and different NGOS. In this case, the integration of the Congress' Delegation was positive.

General overview of Bosnia and Herzegovina

Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) has a population of 3,724,582 made up of Bosnians, Serbs, Croats and others (1999 estimate). It is composed of two entities and one district : the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina (FBiH), the Republika Srpska (RS) and the Brcko District. The FBiH is administratively sub-divided into 10 cantons: (Bosna-Podrinje, Herzegovina-Neretva, Sarajevo, Herzg-Bosnia, Central Bosnia, Tuzla, Una-Sana, Zenica-Doboj, Posavina and West Herzegovina).

Legislative power at the state level is vested in a bicameral parliament, the 42 member House of Representatives and the 15 member House of Peoples. Two-Thirds of the representatives are elected from the FBiH and one third from the RS. The Head of State is a three-member Presidency, one member for each constituent people. The central government is the Council of Ministers. The highest judicial authority is the Constitutional Court of BiH.

The Federation of BiH has its own indirectly elected President and Vice-Presidents, one from each constituent people. It also has a bicameral parliament and government. Each of its ten cantons has its own institutions. The RS is a unitary entity with an assembly and directly elected President and Vice-Presidents.

The Electoral Framework

The general elections in Bosnia and Herzegovina scheduled for 5 October were the first since the 1995 Dayton Agreement to be run by the authorities of Bosnia and Herzegovina rather than by the OSCE. Under an extremely complex electoral system which has only recently been finalised, voters elected all key national, entity and canton officials for 4-year terms.

The adoption of the Election Law has greatly improved the framework for the administration of the elections. It has provided greater procedural certainty to the electoral process, bringing it clearly under the State system of rule of law, and providing greater transparency. In April 2002, following unsuccessful attempts by entity authorities to implement a Constitutional Court decision, the former High Representative issued decisions amending the Election Law and imposing amendments to the constitutions of the two entities affecting the electoral structure.

A large and detailed body of rules and regulations was issued to supplement the Law. However, rules and regulations for some post-election activities are still to be issued.

The politically important provisions of the Election Law prohibiting those illegally occupying others' property from voting in their current municipality of residence (Arts. 19.8, 19.9) proved extremely difficult to enforce at the local level. To date less than 200 citizens have been removed from the Voters Registers.

The political environment

The October elections witnessed the highest number of political parties running since the war. A total of 57 political parties, 9 coalitions and 3 independent candidates were certified. In another post-war first, Serb parties run candidates in the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina. Despite a number of initial problems in meeting signature requirements, all political parties, coalitions and independent candidates wishing to participate were certified by the Election Commission. Two million voters were called to vote.

A total of 1,262 candidates or potential candidates, approximately 14% of the total applications, were denied registration. The vast majority of these were due to the failure of parties to ensure candidates met the necessary administrative requirements, namely being registered as a voter in the constituency of their candidacy.

The former High Representative (HR) issued a decision on 28 March 2002 barring a significant number of citizens from holding elected office and from senior positions in political parties. Several hundred people were denied the possibility of standing as candidates in the election. Furthermore, the HR decision barred those parties in which persons banned from candidacy hold central party positions from being certified for participation in the elections. Although no parties were refused certification for this reason, some parties were forced to restructure their leaderships to ensure certification.

Major parties that have been allied in existing governments have chosen to run separately in these elections. Opinion polls suggested that the main nationalist parties (Serb Democratic Party (SDS), Serb Radical Party (SRS), Party of Democratic Action (SDA) and a Croat Democratic Union (HDZ) led coalition) will again win the most votes of their respective ethnic communities. However, it was believed that they might not muster absolute majorities in any body other than the three-member Presidency. Thus, smaller and more moderate parties may again be able to play an important role in post-election coalition building in both entities and at the State level.

The electoral administration and process

As provided for in the Election Law, the hierarchical structure for the electoral administration for the 5 October elections was the Election Commission (EC) at the State level, Municipal Election Commissions (MECs), and the Polling Station Committees (PSCs).

It could be said that, on the whole, the election administration functioned relatively efficiently. The Election Commission was supported by a Technical Secretariat that dealt with the bulk of the administrative preparations for the elections. All EC decisions but one were taken by consensus. Prior to elections the EC indicated that all MECs were successfully established. Reports of a severe lack of funding for MECs in some municipalities were, nonetheless, the subject of EC attention. There were also concerns about the training and technical capability of some MECs.

The Centralised Voters Register was due to be closed on 20 June. Nevertheless, updating went on for some municipalities as a result of party complaints. The deadline for the composition of Polling Station Committees was 20 September. The EC issued an instruction specifying that, in addition to the legal requirement for multi-ethnicity, every political party could have no more than one representative on a PSC. Difficulties in meeting these requirements have been reported to the EOM.

Printing of ballot papers was also completed on time. The award of the tender for the ballot printing to a foreign firm was a controversial issue earlier in the electoral process. There was an error in the order in which candidates were listed on the ballot for the Republika Srpska (RS) Presidency election; the EC has to take a decision on how to deal with this, as the ballot had already been used in by-mail voting.

A Counting Centre was established in Sarajevo. This is where the first by-mail votes (2,500 by 12 September) arrived and were stored.

It should be noted that although these elections were organised by the BiH authorities, there was still some strong international involvement in the election administration. As an illustration, three international officials sat on the seven-member EC. The Chairperson of the Election Commission cited the leadership of its national members in the decision making process. The OSCE financially supported 21 key Election Commission staff and provided some logistical support to the EC. Foreign government contributions were also needed to fill a gap in election funding. Thus, 70 % of the total costs for the organisation of these elections had to be covered by the international community.

The election campaign

The election atmosphere remained peaceful although politically charged. Indeed, the campaign was markedly personalised and negative, with sharp verbal and press attacks on candidates. Personal attacks and nationalist rhetoric have defined the debate. Incidents of minor intimidations were notably reported in a number of areas prior to the elections. As an example, in Mostar, the New Croat Initiative (NHI) alleged that the Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ) tried to prevent it from establishing an office. In the Dobojc area, Serb Democratic Party (SDS), Serb Radical Part (SRS) and Social Democratic Party (SDP) posters were torn down in large numbers and in Derventa, the flags of Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) flown on SDP Offices were also torn down. In Livno, just over a week after being assaulted, the Croat Peasant Party (HSS) candidate for the BiH Presidency, Ante Colak was prevented from giving a press conference in front of a Ministry of the Interior building by the Police. It was also alleged that some religious leaders in the three main religious communities used their pulpits to encourage voting for nationalist parties.

The TV, radio, electronic and print Media

The media in BiH plays a very important role in shaping public opinion and political orientation. Television is the most influential medium of communication. While the role and conduct of the media in BiH were of concern in previous elections, interlocutors highlighted a number of areas of improvement, increased professionalism, a better mix of private and public broadcasters, a reduction in the number of broadcasters creating a more viable advertising market and the creation of media and television networks. New programming was universally felt to be of higher quality.

It should be noted that electronic media were subject to strict regulation and control by the Communication Regulatory Agency. The electronic media were notably obliged to cover all contestants in the elections in a fair and balanced manner, both in news and current events programs. Entity public television news programs covered the elections in special transmissions after the main news editions. While these programs allocated equal time to all candidates, some interlocutors felt, nonetheless, that they were not very useful for voters as their structure made them unattractive for the public.

Parties and candidates were not allowed to buy airtime. However, private and public electronic media were required to guarantee free airtime – both as video clips and as longer advertisements – to all the competitors. Media not producing or broadcasting “political programs” could ask to be exempted from this obligation. This was potentially controversial as, apparently, there was no definition by law of what was to be considered a “political program”. Print media, which were subject to fewer restrictions, showed a more critical attitude in the coverage of candidates, publishing investigations and inquiries about them.

The period of electoral silence began twenty-four hours before the opening of polling stations and lasted until their closure. During this time, no media coverage of any political activity was allowed. The EOM daily monitored seven newspapers: Oslobodjenje, Dnevni Avaz, Jutarnje Novine, Nezavisne Novine, Glas Srpski, Vecernji List, and Dnevni List. The EOM recorded and analysed daily the two entities' public TV channels – Federation TV and Republika Srpska TV. In addition, spot monitoring was conducted on three private channels: HTV in Mostar, TV Studio 99 and TV Hayat in Sarajevo.

On the whole, one could say that the TV, Radio, electronic and print media provided an extensive coverage of the election. Broadcasters generally obeyed the rules requiring even distribution of time and fair treatment.

Minority issues

Minority groups not constituting one of the three constituent peoples and classified as “Others”, appeared to have played a marginal role in the elections. Only 169 candidates (2.24 % of all certified candidates) were “Others”. Many were Roma, the largest minority group registered to vote in the Tuzla, Travnik and Mostar regions. There was no Roma based political party. Roma indicated that they were the subject of very little attention from political parties or MECs, although the media reported that leading moderate parties were competing for their votes. Very few Roma candidates were confirmed and some leaders announced that their communities would boycott the elections to protest at their marginalisation. The Jewish community, which numbers some seventeen hundred, had several candidates running for Federation and Cantonal contests in five, largely Bosnian-based, political parties. A small number of community members worked on Polling Station Committees.

Gender issues

A recent report on gender equality characterised the situation of women in BiH in the following way: “…the Discrimination in Bosnia and Herzegovina takes place not just on the familiar grounds of ethnicity and political opinion, but also on the basis of gender. Economic and political changes up until 1991, coupled with the recent war, have had a significant negative impact on the status of women in BiH. Overall, women's participation in political and public life has declined; their employment prospects have worsened, and more women are subject to domestic violence than before the war. In addition, although women are represented in the judiciary and other professional fields, their representation in senior positions is far from commensurate with their representation in the population”.1

BiH Legislation provides extensive protection for the rights of women. The Constitution of BiH (Article 2), the Constitution of the FBiH (part 2) and the Constitution of the RS (Article 25) have fully and unambiguously established the rights of women. Furthermore, the election Law of BiH regulates the issue of the presence of women by ensuring a minimum gender representation in all party candidates lists.

However, female presence and influence in the public and political sphere of power remains unsatisfactory. As an illustration, it is interesting to note that in spite of the gender regulations, prior to these elections, 14 of the 16 political parties in the BiH House of Representatives did not have any female parliamentarians. A somewhat more favourable situation for elected women exists in the FBiH House of Representatives (17.1 %) and the RS National Assembly (16.9 %).

Complaints

There was a significant increase in complaints in the period leading up to the elections. These were addressed in earnest by the Elections Complaints and Appeals Councils (ECAC) and the Election Commission. The most serious resulted in the sanctioning of three candidates for inflammatory language and incitement to violence, and one for an inciting video.

The largest number of complaints was about the composition of Polling Station Committees (PSCs), in particular political parties membership – a new provision approved by the Election Commission. Complaints have also been about campaign obstruction - primarily the tearing down or covering up of campaign posters, or the placement of posters on public buildings in contravention of the Election law. In such cases, fines were imposed on political parties by the ECAC.

The Congress' Delegation meetings with Mr. Milovan Blagojevic, Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs of BiH and with the members of the Bosnian Delegation to the CLRAE

As indicated above, on the eve of election day, and thanks to the help of Dr Igor Gaon, Permanent Representative of Bosnia and Herzegovina to the Council of Europe and his staff, two additional meetings were organised for the members of the Congress' Delegation: one between Mr Keith Whitmore, Head of the Congress' Delegation and Mr Milovan Blagojevic, Deputy-Minister for Foreign Affairs of Bosnia and Herzegovina, and the other between the members of the Congress' Delegation and the Representatives of Bosnia and Herzegovina to the CLRAE.

Mr Blagojevic made it clear that Bosnia and Herzegovina was eager to respect the Council of Europe's principles and to join the European Union. He pointed out that Bosnia and Herzegovina had a unique geographical position in Europe and had major assets, namely its natural and human resources. He also insisted that BiH was a factor in the stability of the whole region and that major steps had recently been made in the field of reform, although some improvements were needed. Finally, he expressed his satisfaction regarding the work achieved by Lord Paddy Ashdown, High Representative.

During their meeting with the Representatives of BiH to the Congress, the members of the Congress' Delegation discussed, in greater detail, the main difficulties encountered by the country at the present time. One is regarding the persistent ethnic divisions, exacerbated by the unequal status and treatment experienced by those categories of the Bosnian population classified as “Others”, namely the Jews and the Roma. The fact that in the Federation of BiH those elected representatives who are neither Bosnian nor Croat cannot pretend to the highest office was also criticised.

The complexity and non-viability of the current administrative structure of the country is also of concern. It is leading, notably in the FBiH, to an excessive number of public institutions and to an inadequacy between the competencies and the resources of municipalities, as compared to the Cantons. In consequence, municipalities do not have enough income and have to rely on transfers being made from the state budget. Bosnian Representatives also indicated that the next important issue to be tackled after the elections would be a change of constitution and educational reform, necessary to ensure the return of refugees.

Representatives also pointed that the electoral campaign had been rather dirty. One member suggested that the creation of multinational parties and the possibility of allowing cross-party voting should be examined. Some members also complained about the attitude of the media, which to a certain extent discouraged people from voting by accusing politicians of corruption. The members of the Bosnian Delegation to the Congress finally declared themselves satisfied with the preparation of the elections and by the work achieved by the Electoral Commission.

Observation of the elections on 5 October 2002

The 8 Congress' observers were included in the deployment plans of the OSCE/ODIHR. The 4 Congress' teams were deployed in Sarajevo, Ilijas, Konjic in the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina and in Pale in the Republika Srpska. Altogether, Congress' observers visited 50 to 60 polling stations.

The elections were, on the whole, well organised and took place in a relatively calm atmosphere. The election administration functioned relatively efficiently; ballots were printed and ready for distribution on time. All Municipal Election Commissions (MECs) and polling Station Commissions (PSCs) were successfully established and their members formed and trained on due time. The mixed composition of the members of the polling boards was, in this situation, a key asset that ensured the smooth running of the elections.

Nonetheless, some improvements in the procedures are needed, especially with regard to the preparation of the lists of voters. Indeed, some voters from all nationalities, especially those living abroad, were rejected as they were not registered on the lists. Many others did not know in which polling stations they should vote. As indicated above, major complaints were also presented to judicial authorities of Bosnia and Herzegovina concerning the electoral campaign.

In addition, there were many cases of group and family voting. Some polling stations were also too small. In this respect, it is necessary to note that the complexity of the vote, the presence of 57 political parties and the simultaneity between national and regional elections, did not facilitate the choice of the voters and their understanding of the whole process. There was no clear information about the possibilities of postal voting either, whether it was from BiH or abroad, and much confusion about mobile voting. In some cases, polling stations did not organise mobile voting because the request had to be made prior to the elections, which many voters did not know.

Concerning the political results of the elections; as was expected, the main nationalist parties were the election winners both in the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina and in the Republika Srpska. However, smaller and more moderate parties still play an important role in post-election coalition building in both entities and at the State level. Indeed, the nationalist parties representing the three main ethnic communities do not have an absolute majority in neither the BiH House of representatives nor the parliaments of FBiH and RS and need to form coalitions. In consequence, Bosnia and Herzegovina so far has no government and BiH now has a rotating Presidency composed of the leaders of the country's three main nationalist parties.

Conclusions

On the whole, the Congress' Delegation is satisfied with the way the elections were conducted on 5 October 2002 in Bosnia and Herzegovina, though it is disappointed by the low rate of participation, especially amongst the younger generation. In this respect, it is to be noted that the 54% voting rate is 5% lower than the rate of participation in the 2000 municipal elections.

Congress' observers have concluded that these elections were mainly in conformity with the international electoral standards of the OSCE and the Council of Europe as well as with the National legislation. They insist that these elections showed that Bosnia and Herzegovina is now clearly able to organise its own elections and, with the help of the international community, to respond more quickly to people's aspirations of rebuilding the country. The Delegation also welcomes the fact that these elections have reinforced the current structure of the country although it considers that there is still a need for improvement in the partnership between local and regional levels. Notably, in this respect, the Congress' Delegation insists that there should be better co-operation between the municipalities and the cantons of the FBiH.

The Delegation is also generally pleased with the good co-operation between the members of the polling board, the municipal electoral commissions and the domestic and international observers, although, in some cases, it appeared the representatives of the different political parties did not seem to clearly understand the process or their role. The Delegation was notably highly satisfied with the quality of training and professionalism of the members of the polling boards in the polling stations where its observers were deployed, and wishes to express its sincere congratulations.

However, as indicated above, the Delegation noticed a series of shortcomings. First of all, it deplores the weak representation of women on the parties' lists, and invites the Bosnian authorities to increase female involvement in future elections. In this respect, the Congress' Delegation strongly believes that women should be given an equal opportunity to be elected and thus have a better ranking on the parties' lists. So is the case for young people, many of whom did not go to vote, and who should also be given the possibility to play an active role in politics.

The practice of group voting or rather “assisted voting” was also widespread, mostly involving the elderly and women not being able to read or understand the procedure of voting. Specific training on this issue should probably be provided in this respect, in accordance with the Congress' Resolution 134 (2002) and Recommendation 111 (2002) on “women's individual voting rights: a democratic requirement”. However, it also demonstrated that the procedure and the multiplicity of elections being held at the same time made the whole process too complex and difficult to understand for many voters. Thus, the Congress' delegation believes that the possibility of organising elections for Bosnia and Herzegovina and within the two entities at different periods should be carefully examined. The Delegation also regrets that the electoral campaign was very aggressive, relying on personal attacks amongst candidates rather than the merits of their manifestoes.

On the whole, the Congress welcomes the fact that the elections took place peacefully and wishes to congratulate the Bosnian authorities for their commitment in organising fair and democratic elections. However, given the low turn-out rate reflecting a real frustration among ordinary citizens, most notably among the younger generation, it calls for the newly elected, 4-year term representatives to take their responsibilities seriously in order not to disappoint their people, and above all not to compromise much of the progress and goodwill achieved over the past years. Whilst expressing its satisfaction for the work achieved since 1995 and the major steps made towards reconciliation, it insists on the necessity to even further favour the opening of a real dialogue between the different ethnic groups of the country. It sincerely hopes that these elections will strengthen peace and stability in Bosnia and Herzegovina and favour the creation of necessary conditions for genuine economic development, the improvement in living conditions of its population and its rapid integration into the European Union.

APPENDICES

APPENDIX I - Programme of the Congress' Delegation

General Elections, Bosnia Herzegovina

5 October 2002

Simultaneous translation will be provided in English/local languages during the briefing.

Thursday 3 October 2002

Venue: Hotel Holiday Inn, Neretva Room, Hotel Lobby

15.30 – 16.00 Registration and distribution of accreditation cards and briefing packs.

16.00 – 16.05 Welcoming Remarks by the Head of the OSCE/ODIHR Election Observation Mission, Mr. Peter Eicher

16.05 – 16.30 Introductory Remarks by the Heads of Delegations

Mr. Pieter de Crem, CiO Special Co-ordinator and Head of the OSCE PA Delegation

Baroness Gloria Hooper , Head of the Council of Europe PA Delegation

Ms. Doris Pack, Head of the European Parliament Delegation

Mr. Keith Whitmore, Head of the Congress for Local and Regional Authorities of Europe (CLRAE) delegation

16.30 – 17.45 Briefing by the OSCE/ODIHR Long-Term Election Observation Mission (EOM)

Election Overview and Review of Key Findings of the Long Term Observation Mission: Mr. Peter Eicher, Head of EOM

The Election System and Election Administration: Mr. Ian Mitchell, Deputy Head of the EOM,

Security and Mine Awareness: Mr. Peter McMahon, Security Officer

Logistic: Mr. Nicolas Kaczorowski, PA Liaison Officer

17.45 – 18.00 Coffee Break

18.00 – 19.30 The Political Landscape of the 5 October General Elections

Panel discussion with political parties

Introducer: Mr. Jim Rogan, EOM Political Adviser

Participants:

Mr. Barisa Colak, President of the Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ)

Mr. Mladen Ivanic, President of the Party of Democratic Progress (PDP)

Mr. Dragan Kalinic, President of the Serb Democratic Party (SDS)

Mr. Zlatko Lagumdzija, President of Social Democratic Party (SDP)

Mr. Mladen Ivankovic Lijanovic, President of Radom za Boljitak

Mr. Haris Silajdzic, President of the Party of Bosnia and Herzegovina (SBiH)

Mr. Sulejman Tihic, President of the Party for Democratic Action (SDA)

19.00 – 19.30 Briefing by Lord Paddy Ashdown, High Representative

Friday 4 October

Venue: Hotel Holiday Inn, Neretva Room, Hotel Lobby

9.00 – 9.50 The Administration of the Election Process

Introducer: Mr. Kamen Ivanov, EOM Election Expert

Participants:

Mrs. Lidija KORAC, President of Election Commission (EC)

9.50 – 11.00 The Media Coverage of The Pre-Election Campaign

Panel discussion with the media

Introducer: Ms. Giovanna Maiola, EOM Media Expert

Participants:

Mr. Kenan Cerimagic, News Editor, TV Hayat

Mr. Mujo Delibegovic, Chief Editor, Public Broadcasting Service

Mr. Zeljko Kopanja, Editor in Chief, Nezavisne Novine

Mrs. Senka Kurtovic, Editor in Chief, Oslododejne

Mrs. Valentina Rupcic, Journalist, Dnevni List

11.00 – 11.30 Coffee break

11.30 – 12.30 The NGO Involvement In These Elections

Panel discussion with Non Governmental Organisations:

Introducer: Mr. Ian Mitchell, Deputy HoM

Participants:

Mr. Srdjan Dizdarevic, Director of the NGO Coalition “Elections”, Helsinki Federation Committee

Ms Irena Hadziabdic, Executive Director, Association for Election Officials

Mr. Ljubo Janjic, Manager of the Observation Campaign, Centers for Civic Initiatives

12.30 End of briefing

13. 00 Members of Parliament observing in Banja Luka and Mostar will meet their drivers and interpreters

13.30 Deployment of Members of Parliament to Banja Luka and Mostar

14.00-15.00 Meeting between Mr Keith Whitmore (Head of the Congress Delegation) and Mr Milovan Blagojevic, Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs of Bosnia and Herzegovina

15.00 – 16.00 Meeting with the delegation of Bosnia and Herzegovina to the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of Europe

The meeting will be held in the building of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

The transport of CLRAE delegation to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs will

be organised.

Saturday 5 October

Observation Day

5.00 Breakfast

5.30 Departure for Rogatica/Konjic/Goradze -- Hotel Holiday Inn Lobby

6.00 Departure for Sokolac/Pale/Trnovo/Visoko/Ilijas -- Hotel Holiday Inn Lobby

6.15 Departure for deployment in Sarajevo/Vogosca/Ilidza/Hadzici -- Hotel Holiday Inn Lobby

7.00 Opening of polling stations

19.00 Closing of polling stations

Drop off observation forms at ODIHR EOM Office, Fra Andjela Zvizdovica 1 (UNIS building, first floor) or at the Hotel Holiday Inn.

Sunday 6 October

7.30 – 9.00 Joint Debriefing

Venue: Hotel Holiday Inn, Neretva Room, Hotel Lobby

12.30 Transport will be organised from the Holiday Inn to the Press Centre

13.00 Press Conference

Venue: Press Center, CIMIC

APPENDIX II - DEPLOYMENT PLAN OF THE CLRAE DELEGATION

 

Team

Nationality

Deployment area

1

Keith WHITHMORE
Giampaolo CORDIALE

British
Italian

Sarajevo

2

Mr Martin HAAS
Olivier TERRIEN

Swiss
French

Ilijas

3

Mr Joseph BORG
Mr Slobodan KOVACEVSKI

Maltese
Macedonian

Pale

4

Mr Suvi RIHTNIEMI
Mr Kristof VARGA

Finnish
Hungarian

Konjic

APPENDIX III - INTERNATIONAL ELECTION OBSERVATION MISSION 2002 GENERAL ELECTIONS - BOSNIA AND HERZEGOVINA

Statement of Preliminary Findings and Conclusions

Sarajevo, 6 October 2002 - The International Election Observation Mission (IEOM) for the 5 October 2002 general elections is a joint undertaking of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe, the European Parliament, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, and the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights. The Council of Europe's Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of Europe also observed the cantonal and municipal elections.

This statement of preliminary findings and conclusions is issued before the completion of the counting process, the announcement of election results and before all complaints and appeals have been addressed by the electoral and judicial authorities.

PRELIMINARY CONCLUSIONS

The 5 October 2002 general elections in Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) were largely in line with international standards for democratic elections, when considering the country's unique constitutional framework. They also mark important progress toward the consolidation of democracy and rule of law under domestic control.

The elections were particularly significant from a political perspective because they were the first in which all State and entity offices were being elected for four-year terms. As such, the governments emerging from the vote will have a crucial role in determining the future of BiH's integration into European and trans-Atlantic structures.

These were essentially transitional elections. Although they were the first elections since the Dayton Peace Agreement to be administered and conducted by BiH authorities, they took place in a unique legal context in which ultimate authority still rests with the international community. In the months leading up to the elections and as in previous elections, the international community took a number of steps affecting key aspects of the elections which, while in line with their mandate to promote peace and in compliance with UN Security Council resolutions, were in some instances irregular by international election standards. Such measures will hopefully be unnecessary in future elections.

The elections were noteworthy for the following accomplishments:

A broad and active campaign including 57 political parties, nine coalitions, and three independent candidates, providing voters a genuine choice;

A campaign environment largely free of violence and with few reports of intimidation;

General respect for the freedom of movement, association, and expression;

Substantially more cross-entity politicking than during previous elections;

A less overt role for nationalism than in previous elections, although it remained an underlying issue;

Normalisation of the electoral process through the adoption of a State-level Election Law and the creation of national bodies responsible for the elections;

A national Election Commission which maintained high levels of trust among political parties and worked in a consensual manner;

An Election Commission decision to include political party members on Polling Station Committees, increasing the transparency of the election administration; and

An active broadcast and print media providing extensive and diverse election coverage.

Some shortcomings were apparent in the electoral process including:

Failure of State and entity authorities to reach timely agreement on a number of important electoral issues and appointments, leading to the imposition of these measures by the former High Representative;

Continued international membership on the Election Commission and other bodies, which diminished the perception of national control over the elections;

Failure of the BiH, entity and municipal authorities to provide adequate financing for the elections;

An expressed lack of confidence by many party officials in the fairness and impartiality of important aspects of the electoral process, including the complex electoral system, the complaints procedure, the composition of Polling Station Committees, and the counting process for absentee and out of country ballots;

Delays by the Election Commission in adopting some regulations, affecting procedures at lower levels;

A highly negative and often personalised campaign, with little meaningful debate on reform or other key issues; and

Citizens who do not identify themselves as Bosnian, Serb, or Croat are effectively barred from the State Presidency and some other offices.

Voter turnout was 54%. Observers assessed the voting process positively for an overwhelming number of polling stations visited. The main problems noted were group voting, voters unable to find their names on voter registers, and unauthorised persons in polling stations. Intimidation of party observers was noted in a few isolated cases. Observers evaluated the vote count and aggregation of results at MECs in a less positive tone.

The final assessment of these elections will depend, in part, on the completion of counting and tabulation, the final announcement of results and the effectiveness of the complaints procedure. The OSCE/ODIHR Election Observation Mission will remain in country to observe the completion of these aspects of the electoral process.

The institutions represented in the IEOM are prepared to assist the authorities and civil society of Bosnia and Herzegovina in continuing to improve its electoral process.

PRELIMINARY FINDINGS

Background

The 5 October 2002 general elections will award four-year mandates for the Presidency of BiH, the House of Representatives of the Parliamentary Assembly of BiH, the House of Representatives of the Parliament of the Federation of BiH (Federation), the President and Vice Presidents of the Republika Srpska (RS), the National Assembly of the RS, and ten Cantonal Assemblies in the Federation, as well as a two-year mandate for the Municipal Council of Žepce.

Following the last general elections in 2000, two large coalitions of political parties were formed that have governed at the State and entity levels. The parties allied in those coalitions chose to run separately in 2002. Fifty-seven political parties, nine coalitions and three independent candidates were certified. A significant positive development was the expansion of cross-entity campaigns: 27 Federation-based parties are running in the RS, while 12 RS-based parties are running in the Federation. However, it appears this campaigning is largely directed at minority returnee communities. Opinion polls suggest that no party will muster an absolute majority in the national or entity assemblies. An extended period of post-election coalition building may be needed to form governments in the entities and at State level.

Legislative Framework

The Election Law provides the essential basis for democratic elections. Although belatedly adopted in August 2001 as a replacement for provisional rules used for elections since 1996, it has greatly improved the framework for the elections and brought electoral legislation clearly under the domestic system of rule of law. The law establishes an unusually complex electoral framework. Many of the larger political parties complain that the system encourages smaller, and less viable, political parties.

One unfortunate peculiarity of the State structure is that citizens who do not identify themselves as one of the three "constituent peoples" of BiH are effectively barred from the BiH and RS presidencies; this is contrary to international standards for democratic elections. Furthermore, citizens voting for the BiH State presidency are limited in their electoral choice based on ethnicity and their place of residence: citizens voting for the RS may only vote for a Serb, while citizens voting for the Federation may only vote for a Bosnian or Croat. The restriction also applies to the candidates to the State Presidency: a Serb registered to vote in the Federation cannot run for the BiH presidency; and the same is true for Bosnians and Croats registered in the RS.

Unlike other sovereign States, the pinnacle of the legislative framework in BiH is the General Framework Agreement for Peace in Bosnia and Herzegovina (Peace Agreement) of which the Constitution of BiH is an integral part. Moreover, the Peace Agreement is supplemented by United Nations Security Council resolutions and Peace Implementation Council decisions. This supra-national legal structure grants extraordinary powers to the international community, including authority over elections.

In April 2002, following unsuccessful attempts by entity authorities to implement a Constitutional Court decision, the former High Representative issued decisions changing the Election Law and imposing amendments to the constitutions of the two entities affecting the electoral structure. As in previous elections, decisions by the former High Representative and other international authorities barred several hundred persons from holding elected office, barred parties in which those persons hold central party positions from being certified for participation in the elections, and removed some elected officials from office. Some parties were forced to restructure their leaderships to ensure certification. Such decisions are within the mandate granted to the High Representative by the UN Security Council. In other circumstances, such measures would be irregular by international standards, in particular where effective means of redress against administrative decisions or the right to a fair and pubic hearing were not available.

Article 19.8 of the Election Law links the right of displaced persons to return freely to their homes - a key element of the peace process - to the right to vote. Persons illegally occupying a residence and subject to a restitution order should have no right to vote in their current place of domicile. However, lack of clarity in Article 19.8 and difficulties of enforcement led to the application of the rule to just 200 people out of the thousands of registered voters who may be illegal occupants, raising concerns about the equitable application of the law.

Until shortly before the election, relatively few formal complaints were filed with the Election Complaints and Appeals Council (ECAC) and still fewer were appealed to the newly appointed Appellate Division of the State Court. While this may reflect a well-run electoral process, according to political parties it also reflects a lack of confidence in the appeals procedure as an effective remedy for election complaints. In the final days before the elections, however, approximately 60 complaints were received by the ECAC, overwhelmingly concerning violations of campaign rules.

Election Administration

The Election Commission (EC) functioned efficiently and retained a high level of confidence amongst most political parties. Almost all EC decisions were taken by consensus. EC meetings were open and transparent. The four national members of the seven-member EC took the leading role in its work and decisions. The Municipal Election Commissions (MECs) also generally operated professionally, although some experienced a severe lack of funding from municipal authorities. A good training program was provided by the Association of Election Officials of BiH, under the supervision of the EC.

An Election Commission decision to include political party members on Polling Station Committees (PSCs) increased the transparency and inclusiveness of the election administration. At the same time, some problems arose in the formation of PSCs, in particular meeting the requirement for ethnic composition, technical expertise and that every political party may have no more than one representative on a PSC. By 20 September, the date by which the formation of PSCs was due to be completed, about a third of all MECs either had not reported to the Election Commission of BiH or did not make PSC appointments as per the regulations. Many political parties expressed dissatisfaction with their level of representation on the PSCs; this was not surprising given the large number of parties and limited number of PSC positions.

Delays by the EC in adopting some regulations negatively affected preparations for the elections. For example, this led to incomplete training of some PSC members. In addition, the late passage of regulations regarding some election day MEC activities, including vote aggregation and the composition of tendered ballot PSCs, hindered preparations for these elements of the process.

The State, entity and municipal authorities failed to appropriate sufficient funding for the elections, leaving the international community to cover 70% of the costs. The international community also continued to provide support to the electoral process through the provision of salaries for 21 key EC staff and some logistical support.

A total of 1,262 candidates or potential candidates, approximately 14% of total applications, were denied registration. The vast majority of these were due to the failure of parties to ensure candidates met the necessary administrative requirements, namely being registered as a voter in the constituency of their candidacy.

Voter registration closed on 20 June. Final voter lists were established on 1 July. As a result of complaints from political parties, updating continued in some municipalities until shortly before election day. Final voter registration figures showed a small increase in in-country voters and a large decrease in out-of-country voters.

The Campaign

The election campaign took place in a generally open, peaceful and free environment. There were relatively few explicit instances of hate speech or incitement to violence, but three led to formal complaints and sanctions by the EC. Although there were a few serious security incidents in the country during the campaign period, none appear to have been directly related to the elections.

The campaign was highly personalised and negative in nature, with sharp verbal and press attacks on candidates. There was a lack of meaningful debate on substantive issues, including reform. Public interest in the campaign, especially amongst young people, appeared to be low. Election posters blanketed the country, but rallies were often poorly attended.

Overall, political parties and candidates reported no serious impediments to their campaigns. A few cases of political intimidation or obstructionism were reported, including a climate of subtle intimidation in some communities. Campaign posters were vandalised in several regions, in some instances on a large scale.

Nationalism played less of an overt role than in previous elections, but remained an underlying issue. Ethnicity continued to be a campaign issue in some areas and nationalist politics remain entrenched at the local level. Many parties used nationalist or ethnic symbols, slogans or music.

International authorities were actively involved in the election campaign. For example, the High Representative undertook a vigorous campaign to encourage citizens "to vote, and to vote for reform". This was consistent with his position that he would not support particular parties or candidates. The notably more neutral posture of the High Representative and other international authorities toward political parties and candidates in these elections compared to previous elections was welcomed by nearly all political parties.

The Media

A large spectrum of electronic and print media provided extensive coverage of the elections. The media environment was generally more professional than in previous elections. The national broadcast service TVBH provided increased cross-entity electoral coverage, setting a positive trend.

There was only one instance of physical intimidation of journalists reported, although many media representatives reported experiencing indirect pressure by political parties and authorities, as well as tax audits in the RS.

Electoral coverage by public and private broadcasters was generally in conformity with strict regulations guaranteeing airtime and equitable and fair coverage to all parties. This was widely regarded as an improvement over previous elections. Parties and candidates were not allowed to buy airtime. The formats chosen to cover candidates were often dull or unimaginative, and may have reduced public interest in the campaign.

Print media, which are subject to fewer restrictions than broadcast media, covered the campaign in a more lively, critical and aggressive fashion. The print media were, in general, highly partisan.

The Communications Regulatory Agency (CRA), heard approximately 20 complaints by election day. These mainly concerned the alleged failure of some broadcasters to allot equitable time to all candidates or to report political party announcements. Approximately half reached a friendly settlement.

The 24-hour campaign moratorium was violated. On 4 and 5 October, the Ekonomski blok HDU za blojitak sent mobile phone text messages to voters, soliciting support. While the EOM received no reports about BiH media violating the moratorium, some foreign newspapers available in BiH, including Croatia's Vijesnik, Vecernji List, and Novi List, Serbia's Danas, and Montenegro's Vijesti published political commentaries on the BiH elections.

Participation of Minorities

Minority groups, which do not constitute one of the three Constituent Peoples, but are "Others", have played a marginal role in the elections. Only 169 certified candidates (2.24 per cent of all certified candidates) are "Others". Many Roma, the largest minority group, have registered in the Tuzla, Travnik and Mostar regions, but indicated very little attention from political parties. There is no Roma-based political party. A small number of Roma candidates have been reported. Two Roma leaders indicated their communities would spoil ballots in protest of their marginalisation.

The small Jewish community has slated several candidates with five Bosnian-based political parties for Federation and Canton races. A small number are active at the PSC level.

Gender Issues

The Election Law contains a gender requirement. Approximately one-third of each political party candidates list must be of the minority gender, equally spaced on the list. Although this has greatly increased the numbers of women candidates, women in general do not hold positions of power in political parties. Women leaders assert that the open-list voting system militates against the election of women. Within the election administration, the President of the EC is a woman, there are substantial numbers of women on MECs and PSCs, and 60% of the EC Secretariat are women.

Domestic Observers

The election law provides domestic observers with full access to all aspects of the electoral process. Two domestic non-partisan election observer groups, the Center for Civic Initiatives and Elections 2002 deployed some 6,000 poll-watchers on election day. Both groups coordinated consortiums of NGOs in their monitoring effort. In a welcome development, both groups received assistance from similar organisations in the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia and Croatia.

Election Day & Vote Count

The low level of public interest in the elections during the campaign seemed to have affected voter turnout on the day of election. Voter turnout was only 54%.

From 1,300 visits paid to some 1,100 polling stations, in only 3% of cases observers assessed the conduct of the polling process as "poor". The main problems noted were group voting in 38% of observations, voters unable to find their names on the voter registers in 60% of observed polling stations, and unauthorised persons in polling stations in 13% of observations. Otherwise, the voting process was orderly in an overwhelming proportion of polling stations visited. Unusual tension in polling stations was noted in only 3% of the visits, dissatisfied voters were noted in 1% of the visits, and campaign activity was noted in only 2 polling stations. However, campaign material was seen within 50 meters of polling stations in 6% of the visits, but campaign activity was limited to 1%. Remarkably, very few cases were reported of undue influence on voters or polling station committee members. The few reported cases of intimidation against party observers seemed concentrated in the western Herzegovina region of the Federation .

In terms of measures to safeguard the integrity of the polling process, voters presented proper photo IDs in 97% of observations, each voter signed the voter register in 99% of cases, voters marked their ballots in secret in 95%, and proxy voting was limited to 2% of observations.

Domestic observers, both political party and non-partisan, were noted during 94% of visits to polling stations. Of these, 42% were non-partisan civil society representatives.

Observers evaluated the vote count somewhat less positively (14% "poor" rating), with unauthorised persons present reported as the main problem (28% of counts observed). The aggregation of results at MEC level was also evaluated less positively (26% "poor" rating), with procedures not followed properly. After the vote count at polling stations, domestic non-partisan and political party observer presence at the MEC level seemed to have diminished considerably.

This statement is available in the English, Bosnian, Croatian, and Serbian languages. However, the English text is the only official version.

MISSION INFORMATION & ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

Mr. Pieter De Crem (MP, Belgium) was appointed Special Coordinator of the OSCE Chairman-in-Office for the short-term Election Observation Mission. Baroness Hooper, Member of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE), led the PACE delegation. Mrs. Doris Pack, Chairperson of the Delegation for Relations with South-East Europe of the European Parliament (EP), led the EP delegation. Mr. Peter Eicher headed the OSCE/ODIHR Election Observation Mission.

The OSCE/ODIHR Election Observation Mission (EOM) was established in Sarajevo on 3 September and shortly thereafter started monitoring the electoral process, with 18 long-term observers throughout the country.

On election day, the International Election Observation Mission deployed some 450 observers from 37 OSCE participating States, including 23 parliamentarians from the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly, 3 from the European Parliament and 16 from PACE. The 6-member Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of Europe (CLRAE) delegation focused on the cantonal and municipal elections. In addition, representatives of OSCE participating State embassies in Sarajevo and of international organisations contributed short-term observers to the IEOM. On election day, observers paid some 1,300 visits to about 1,100 polling stations out of the approximately 3,900 throughout the country.

The OSCE/ODIHR will issue a comprehensive report on these elections approximately one month after the completion of the process.

The IEOM wishes to thank the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Election Commission, and other national and local authorities for their assistance and co-operation during the course of the observation. The IEOM also wishes to express appreciation to the OSCE Mission to Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Office of the High Representative and the Council of Europe Office in Sarajevo, as well as other international organisations and embassies accredited in Sarajevo for their support throughout the duration of the mission.

For further information, please contact:

Mr. Peter Eicher, Head of the OSCE/ODIHR EOM, in Sarajevo (+387 33 295 494); or Mr. Jens-Hagen Eschenbächer, Spokesperson, OSCE/ODIHR, in Warsaw (+48 603 293 122);

Mr. Vladimir Dronov, Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, in Strasbourg (+33 672 75 43 18);

Mr. Jan Jooren, Press Counselor of the OSCE PA, in Copenhagen (+45 21 606 380);

Ms. Ursula Bausch, European Parliament, in Brussels (+32 2 284 25 84).

OSCE/ODIHR EOM Address:

Fra Andjela Zvizdovica 1 71000 Sarajevo Bosnia and Herzegovina Tel.: +387-33-295-494 Fax: +387-33-295-493 e-mail: odihr@odihr.lol.ba

APPENDIX IV - Statement of the Congress' Delegation

Elections in Bosnia and Herzegovina largely in line with international standards

Sarajevo , 6.10.02 - The Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of the Council of Europe (CLRAE) observed the elections in the two entities (Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina and Republika Srpska) and in the cantons of the Federation in Bosnia and Herzegovina on 5 October 2002.

Mr Keith Whitmore, Head of the Congress' Delegation (United Kingdom, R) declared that "the Congress was well satisfied with the organisation of the elections. The elections have shown that Bosnia and Herzegovina is now clearly able to organise its own elections and with the help of the international community, to respond more quickly to people's aspirations of rebuilding the country”.

He also pointed out that “these elections have reinforced the current structure of the country although there is still a need for improvement in the partnership between local and regional levels."

The other members of the Congress' Delegation were Mrs Suvi Rihtniemi (Finland, R), Mr Joseph Borg (Malta, R), Dr Martin Haas (Switzerland, L), Mr Slobodan Kovacevski (“The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia”, L) and Mr Kristof Varga (Hungary, R), accompanied by two members of the Congress'Secretariat. Congress' teams were deployed in the following areas : Sarajevo, Ilijas, Konjic and Pale.

The national elections were observed by the Council of Europe's Parliamentary Assembly, the European Parliament, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe and the OSCE's Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR).

More information can be found in the press release and in the preliminary statement published by the International Election Observation Mission (IEOM).

For further details, please contact, at the Congress' Secretariat:

Giampaolo Gordiale (tel + 33 3 88 41 31 02, giampaolo.cordiale@coe.int) or
Olivier Terrien, (tel : + 33 3 88 41 22 47, olivier.terrien@coe.int).

APPENDIX V - Joint press release
OSCE/ODHIR – European Parliament – Parliamentary Assembly of Council of Europe's

475a(2002)

General elections in Bosnia and Herzegovina largely in line with international standards

SARAJEVO, 6 October 2002 - Yesterday's general elections in Bosnia and Herzegovina were largely in line with international standards, considering the country's unique constitutional framework, concluded the International Election Observation Mission in a statement issued today. Over 400 international observers monitored the first election administered by the authorities of Bosnia and Herzegovina since the Dayton Peace Agreement signed in 1995.

"These elections mark important progress toward the consolidation of democracy and rule of law under domestic control", said Pieter de Crem, Special Co-ordinator of the OSCE Chairman-in-Office for these elections and head of the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly delegation.

"These elections - the first since Bosnia and Herzegovina's accession to the Council of Europe earlier this year - are a positive step towards meeting the country's obligations which it assumed upon joining the organisation", said Baroness Hooper, the head of the delegation of the Council of Europe's Parliamentary Assembly.

"We call on all those elected yesterday to continue the process of national reconciliation and to create conditions for sustainable return", added Doris Pack, the head of the European Parliament's delegation. "We encourage all newly elected politicians to assume ownership of the process of tackling the country's main challenges by implementing the necessary economic and legal reforms, and to co-operate in mutual trust for the strengthening of the State of Bosnia and Herzegovina."

"The new national election administration has successfully passed its first test, but the final judgement will depend on the results of the tabulation and the complaints processes. These need to be completed efficiently and swiftly", added Peter Eicher, head of the Observation Mission of the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR).

The international observers noted that in what was a broad and active campaign involving 57 political parties, candidates were able to move unhindered and they engaged in substantially more cross-entity campaign activities than during previous elections. Nationalist rhetoric was less overt in this campaign but remained an underlying issue. An active print and electronic media provided extensive and diverse coverage.

The adoption of election legislation and the creation of electoral administration bodies at the national level resulted in a normalisation of the electoral process after years of direct international supervision. However, the elections were held within a unique constitutional framework in which ultimate responsibility still rested with the international community. As in previous elections, the international community took a number of steps affecting key aspects of the electoral process which, while in line with its mandate, would have been irregular by international standards under other circumstances. Such measures will hopefully be unnecessary in future elections.

Shortcomings included the highly negative and often personalised nature of the campaign with little meaningful debate on reform issues, and the failure of the authorities to make timely decisions on a number of important electoral issues. The long-term mission also noted considerable distrust among party officials as regards important aspects of the electoral process, including the complaints procedure, the composition of polling station committees and the counting process for absentee and out-of-country ballots.

On election day, the voting took place in a calm and peaceful atmosphere, and the voting procedures were conducted generally in a well-ordered and efficient way. Overall, the election administration was impressive.

Contact Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly Communication Unit Tel. +33 3 88 41 33 35 - Fax. +33 3 90 21 41 34 E-mail: mailto:PressUnit@coe.int

1 Report on Gender equality, OHR Human Rights/Rule of Law Department, May 2001



 Top