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Bosnia: Muslim Party Urges Refugees Not To Vote

Sarajevo, 28 August 1996 (RFE/RL) -- Bosnia's ruling Muslim nationalist party today urged refugees living abroad to suspend voting until registration irregularities are resolved.

The call came in a statement issued by the Party of Democratic Action as absentee voting was scheduled to begin.

The opposition Party for Bosnia-Herzegovina, led by former Prime Minister Haris Silajdzic, supported the call. It issued a statement calling for a boycott "until the circumstances under which the elections are being held are cleared up."

No response was immediately available from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), which is organizing the balloting.

More than 640,000 Bosnian refugees abroad have registered to vote in the Bosnian elections, for which in-country balloting begins on September 14. Most refugees are Bosnian Muslims.

Meanwhile, the first of some 1,200 election supervisors began arriving at Sarajevo airport today in the run-up to next month's planned voting in Bosnia-Herzegovina.

Reuters reports that 400 supervisors are expected in the Bosnian capital by the end of the day. The NATO-led peace implementation force (IFOR) will later transport them by road and air to the 29 regional field offices established by the OSCE.

The OSCE, which is in charge of the September 14 vote, decided yesterday that municipal elections originally expected to be part of the voting will be postponed because of irregularities in registration. Elections are still planned on the cantonal, parliamentary, and presidential level.

Aleksa Buha, the foreign affairs spokesman for the Bosnian Serbs, is quoted by the official Bosnian Serb news agency SRNA as saying that they will "very probably" respect the decision to delay municipal voting. Buha's comment contradicts a statement by Bosnian Serb deputy prime minister Miroslav Vjestica that the municipal vote would proceed in areas controlled by the Bosnian Serbs.

Meanwhile, Radio Belgrade reports today that Bosnian refugees in Serbia have begun voting. The process there will continue into next week.