The International Institute for Middle-East and Balkan Studies (IFIMES) in Ljubljana, Slovenia, regularly analyses events in the Middle East and the Balkans. Following the eighth general election in Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) which was held on 7 October 2018, IFIMES has analysed the current political situation with an emphasis on the formation of government at all levels of authority. The most relevant and interesting sections from the comprehensive analysis entitled “BiH 2018 government formation: A ‘conclave’ for Bosnia and Herzegovina” are published below.
Bosnia and Herzegovina held the eighth general election on 7 October 2018. On 17 October 2018 IFIMES published an analysis entitled „Following the 2018 general election in BiH: halting the spiral of stolen elections“, link: http://www.ifimes.org/ba/9590 .
The Central Election Commission (CIK) of Bosnia and Herzegovina plays the central role in the election process, being responsible for accuracy, fairness and overall integrity of elections. CIK has ended the phase of being controlled by certain political parties – now it is under complete control of a handful of political moguls. However, the problem lies not only with CIK but also in the fact that the BiH Court, the BiH Prosecutor's Office and the High Judicial and Prosecutorial Court of BiH (VSTV) are controlled by some of those political moguls. It is obvious that elections in BiH are not won by people's votes but through CIK's manipulative practices. In this criminal circle the voters feel powerless against the fact that the results of each next election will resemble the present situation.
Analysts believe that this situation calls for an urgent intervention by the High Representative for Bosnia and Herzegovina (OHR) Valentin Inzko in order to break that closed circle and establish the normal functioning of state institutions.
The public is almost unanimous that the latest election was stolen, prearranged and staged by the Alliance of Independent Social Democrats (SNSD), Croatian Democratic Union of BiH (HDZBiH) and the Party of Democratic Action (SDA). Nonetheless, no serious action has been taken by any of the competent institution or any other political party. Surprisingly, no civil uprising and/or political opposition protest has occurred yet despite the general public awareness of the election fraud.
It is obvious that CIK functions beyond any democratic control and legislative framework. The question is which of the political moguls constantly prevents any action against certain members of CIK. How is it possible that none of CIK members have been apprehended despite the fact that CIK's activities have largely entered the criminal sphere?
However, in the present situation it is almost impossible to oppose CIK's decisions – in order to do that one has to turn to BiH Court, which is together with the Prosecutor's Office and the High Judicial and Prosecutorial Court of BiH controlled by the same political sponsors that control CIK. This closes the circle of political and any other power in Bosnia and Herzegovina. It is a closed criminal organisation whose legality exists only superficially. The existence of legality and legitimacy of the election process is often stressed in Bosnia and Herzegovina, although this country and its election process are characterised by crime whose actors are certain individuals from the highest political circles – they are not the holders of legality and legitimacy but the holders of criminal activities. If BiH was a state truly governed by the rule of law, the responsible political actors would be prosecuted and sentenced to prison for their criminal and corruption activities.
The national/nationalistic parties (SNSD, HDZ and SDA) are trying to present their election results as a big success. As usual, the loudest among them is Milorad Dodik (SNSD) who wants to present himself publicly as the main election winner with about 370,000 received votes, although this represents only 10% of the total population of Bosnia and Herzegovina. Bearing in mind that Dodik was in coalition with the Socialist Party (SP) and the Democratic People's Union (NDS), both of which won together 160,000 votes, Dodik obviously won less votes than the Croat member of BiH Presidency Željko Komšić (DF-GSS). If we add to that Dodik's election result for the National Assembly of Republika (NSRS) where SNSD won less seats that at previous election, it becomes clear that he is trying to turn his election defeat into a pompous victory. Having lost elections in most of the big cities in Republika Srpska, especially in Banja Luka, he is obviously compensating for that loss by buying the deputies who would then “voluntarily” join his coalition majority, which undoubtedly contains elements of corruption. Dodik's anxiety and political insecurity can be noticed in his announcements regarding the constitutional changes and his efforts to gain a two-third parliamentary majority.
Analysts have warned of the danger of reorganising the Government of Republika Srpska and reducing the Ministry for Refugees and Displaced Persons to the secretariat level, bearing in mind that the repatriation of refugees and displaced persons represents one of the parts of the Dayton Peace Agreement which still hasn't been realised (Annex 7 – Agreement on Refugees and Displaced Persons). The intention to exclude higher education from the Ministry of Education and merge it with its department for science and technology is unnecessary and detrimental. Analysts have also warned of the adverse effects of dividing the Ministry of Energy and Mining of Republika Srpska, which is one of the most successful ministries, into two ministries – one for economy and industry and the other for energy and mining – only to satisfy Dodik's staffing appetites. This could also open the question of establishing a unique corporation for energy at the BiH level, which was envisaged in the Dayton Peace Agreement that Dodik so often invokes (Annex 9 - Agreement on Establishment of Bosnia and Herzegovina Public Corporations). Establishment of public corporations in Bosnia and Herzegovina for providing public services such as utility services, energy, and post and communication services represents an integral part of the Dayton Accords. This also includes the establishment of a public corporation for the organisation and management of traffic infrastructure such as roads, rails and ports – to this end the establishment of the Transport Corporation of Bosnia and Herzegovina is envisaged. Should Dodik proceed with his plans this would represent a dangerous political adventure for which he could pay a very high price. Should he not behave in line with the established norms of international relations and international communication, Milorad Dodik could become even more isolated, bearing in mind that he has already been blacklisted by the US Administration.
Although SDA has been trying to present itself as the election winner, the facts show a different picture. For the past 30 years it held the local government of the Sarajevo Canton where its management of the city was disastrous. Although the city of Sarajevo is surrounded with abundant water springs, its citizens often underwent water cut-offs, especially in summer months. SDA often pointed out that it was not able to realise numerous projects due to obstructions caused by the Croatian and Serbian political parties. However no such obstructions could have been raised in the Sarajevo Canton since SDA held absolute power there.
Ever since Sebija Izetbegović, the wife of SDA leader Bakir Izetbegović, has become Director of the University Clinical Center (UKC) in Sarajevo the health system and education in the Sarajevo Canton have been seriously undermined. According to available data, about 100 top-ranking physicians, including some professors from the Sarajevo Faculty of Medicine, have left/been forced to leave UKC following pressures and organised mobbing. SDA's attack at the University of Sarajevo (UNSA) started with the adoption of the disputable Law on Higher Education of the Sarajevo Canton, which limits UNSA's autonomy and prevents its normal operation by the Rectorate. One of the novelties introduced by the Higher Education Law is that UNSA Rector can be dismissed at any time by UNSA Steering Committee and not by UNSA Senate, as was the case before. Transition to treasury operations has also endangered the autonomous functioning of this leading institution for higher education and science in BiH.
Analysts believe that international action must be taken including the support of the international academic community in order to prevent further devastation of UNSA and to stop political pressures initiated by Sebija Izetbegović. The local academic community in Sarajevo is not powerful enough to withstand the pressures and interferences of politics into UNSA's work.
A reassuring announcement has been made by six political parties (SDP, the Democratic Front, Our Party, the People and Justice Party, SBB and the Independent BiH Block) that they would form a new government in the Sarajevo Canton through which they intend to realise a new concept and introduce different political practices. The election of Elvir Karajbić (SDP) for Chairman of the House of Representatives of FBiH Parliament has opened the possibility for the six parties to form the government in the BiH Federation with the support of some other parties. This would bring an encouragement for Bosnia and Herzegovina and hope for a more certain future for all its citizens.
The international community has a strong presence in Bosnia and Herzegovina, most obviously through the Office of the High Representative (OHR), which has been led by Valentin Inzko for the past ten years, and the EU Delegation to BiH headed by the EU Ambassador and Special Representative Lars-Gunnar Wigemark.
The national/nationalistic, chauvinistic and pro-fascist politics in BiH have found their partners in the international community, despite the fact that such streams may dangerously undermine the coexistence concept in regions as diverse as the EU and the US. Why does a part of the international community want to find its partners among these BiH political-criminal structures?
Especially worrying is the EU's role in Bosnia and Herzegovina and the region, since EU states' ambassadors in the region are often the holders of negative tendencies due to their strong ties with the local politicians based on their interests. This applies not only to Ambassador Wigemerk, whose term of office in BiH was incomprehensively prolonged for another year, but also to a large part of EU Delegation in Sarajevo who allocate a significant share of funds according to their own interests and perception and form black lists of unwanted individuals and organisations. All this leads to crime and corruption. The existing situation in BiH suits the majority of the leading political structures as well as EU representatives, although the country has become a sink of corruption, money laundering, human and drug trafficking, prostitution, illegal arms trade etc.
Analysts have warned that before the next EU elections the European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF-) should investigate the activities of the EU Delegation in BiH and its leader in view of the reasonable suspicion that they are involved in crime and corruption and thus cause direct damage the EU taxpayers and undermine the citizen's trust in the EU and their support of membership in this Union.
Bosnia and Herzegovina does not possess the will and the power to fight crime and corruption and to adopt the laws that would regulate the tracing of assets. Therefore the country needs strong support and involvement of the US agencies active in the field of fighting crime and corruption – similarly as Italy was assisted in fighting mafia after World War II.
After the eighth general elections in Bosnia and Herzegovina, a complete turn in the domestic political sphere should be made if the country wants to head towards a bright future. It is therefore of vital importance to achieve a general consensus on the key issues for this country which is one of the poorest in Europe.
Analysts believe that a so called Conclave should be organised, where the main political actors of Bosnia and Herzegovina would decide and reach consensus on the future of Bosnia and Herzegovina. In order to achieve general consensus, support should be provided by the US, the Russian Federation, the EU, Turkey and other relevant states.
Ljubljana, 14 December 2018