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Voting Begins In Bosnian Local Elections

2 October 2004 -- Bosnians began voting today in the country's first locally organized local elections since the 1992-95 war.

Around 2.3 million voters are eligible to elect local councils and mayors in 142 municipalities. For the first time mayors will be elected directly in one round.

The poll is the third local election since the end of the 1992-95 war, but it is the first such poll fully organized and funded by the Bosnian government. Previous elections were financed and guided by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE).

Preliminary results are expected later today. Final results are expected within 30 days.

Analysts say an expected low turnout would benefit the three powerful nationalist parties -- the Muslim Party of Democratic Action (SDA), the Croat Democratic Union (HDZ), and the Serb Democratic Party (SDS) -- which are likely to win in a majority of municipalities dominated by respective ethnic groups.