Washington, 16 September 1997 (RFE/RL) - The U.S. State Department has praised the weekend municipal elections in Bosnia as an important step toward democracy.
Spokesman James Foley said yesterday there were isolated acts of violence in some places but "the overall conduct of the elections exceeded the expectations of the international community" and "these were really very successful elections."
Foley said turnout was high with an estimated 70 percent of the population going to the polls nationwide, including areas under the control of Bosnian Serbs.
He said that implementing the election results will be a critical test for all Bosnians, as well as the international community. But he said the U.S. and its allies are well prepared.
Foley said the first step will be to complete the election certification of the winning candidates and that will be done by a special committee at five regional centers set up by the Organization on Security and Cooperation in Europe which supervised the elections.
He said it will take about a month for the National Elections Results Implementation Committee to make its review and assessment of all the municipalities in Bosnia and check acceptance of the legitimate winners.
Tough sanctions are being considered and will be implemented in the event of non-compliance, Foley said.
He said the sanctions will include denial of economic assistance to the offending municipalities, denial of travel privileges to officials responsible for election violations and other measures.
Foley said the international community has various tools at its disposal and is determined to see the election results and the Dayton peace accords carried out in the weeks to come.