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Bosnia: OSCE's Frowick Confident But Cautious In Final Hours Of Campaign

Sarajevo, 12 September 1996 (RFE/RL) -- The top OSCE official overseeing the elections in Bosnia today told RFE/RL that he is confident the best possible conditions have been established for Bosnia's first post-war vote on Saturday.

In an exclusive interview, ambassador Robert Frowick told RFE/RL that he based his assessment on two things -- the OSCE's removal of Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic from office and the postponement of municipal elections. Frowick said that with those two issues resolved, the prospects for a "manageable" election this Saturday are far better than hoped.

However, he acknowledged that he is still concerned about the potential for violence when Bosnia's Muslims, Croats and Serbs turn out to vote for cantonal assemblies, separate Muslim-Croat and Serb parliaments, a national house of representatives, Serb presidency and a collective presidency.

"I am an optimist without illusions," he said. The OSCE has done everything it can to lessen the likelihood for violence., he said.

The OSCE (Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe) has said from the outset that the vote will not be free and fair by Western democratic standards. Asked why the process should go forward, Frowick said, "without elections Bosnia has no hope of creating the joint institutions outlined under Dayton to unify the country."

Critics say the tragedy of the Bosnian war is being followed by "the farce" of Bosnian elections.

Frowick said he anticipates some contention following the announcement of the results, but he said the OSCE would deal with any such claims on an individual basis. He also said it was essential for the international community to stay in Bosnia at least until the next elections in 1998 to help solidify the effort.