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Bosnia: OSCE To Postpone Municipal Elections Again

Sarajevo, 22 October 1996 (RFE/RL) -- The Organization For Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) is expected to announce the second postponement of Bosnia's municipal elections today.

Western news agencies, quoting an unnamed Western official, said the director of the OSCE's mission in Bosnia, Ambassador Robert Frowick, would officially announce the cancellation at a scheduled news conference in Sarajevo several hours from now.

A senior OSCE official, speaking to RFE/RL on condition of anonymity, said the municipal elections would be postponed later today "because of political difficulties in all areas of the country." Asked when the municipals were now likely to be held, the same official said "next April or June."

The local elections were originally scheduled to take place alongside national elections for a Presidency and Parliament, but were postponed until November 23-24 due to concerns about irregularities in voter registration.

The Croat member of Bosnia's newly-elected three-member presidency, Kresimir Zubak, told Croatian State television late yesterday, "All sides think that no conditions exist for fair and solid municipal elections." Zubak added, "it would be in the common interest for some open issues to be resolved first, such as municipalities that are split between the Serb and Muslim-Croat entities that make up Bosnia."

The municipal elections are viewed as the last chance for Bosnia to be reunited after a war that divided the country along ethnic lines. Voting for local officials could pave the way for refugees to return to communities they had been expelled from during 43 months of war.