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Bosnia: OSCE Considering Postponing Municipal Elections

Sarajevo, 23 August 1996 (RFE/RL) -- The organization supervising the September 14 general elections in Bosnia-Herzegovina is considering postponing municipal elections in response to evidence that the voter registration process for refugees and displaced persons has been unfairly manipulated.

Agota Kuperman, a spokeswoman for the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) says the Provisional Election Commission is meeting in Sarajevo today to consider postponement, one of several options.

Elections are planned for the presidential and parliamentary levels and in the Muslim-Croat federation at the cantonal level. As many as 2.9 million Bosnians may vote on election day, up to half of them refugees and displaced persons.

The OSCE, empowered by the Dayton accords to supervise the elections, and independent monitors report that hundreds of thousands of refugees living in Serbia and displaced people in Republika Srpska were actively discouraged from registering to vote in the community they lived in before the war.

According to OSCE officials, the intent of what they term "electoral engineering" is to cement Serb control over strategic but depopulated towns.

Bosnian Moslems complain that municipal elections under such conditions would merely ratify ethnic cleansing.