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Bosnia: OSCE Postpones Election Until September

Vienna, 6 March 1997 (RFE/RL) - A senior OSCE official says Bosnia's municipal elections, originally scheduled for mid-July, are being be postponed to mid-September. It is the third cancellation of the poll.

The news comes today from the chairman of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, Danish Foreign Minister Niels Helved Petersen. He said they should now take place on September 13 or 14.

The local polls were originally set for September 1996, along with general elections. They were postponed because of widespread election fraud over refugee registration. They were moved to November last year and then to July of this year.

Western countries have urged the delay to allow more time to register refugees and organize international monitoring.

U.S. Defense Secretary William Cohen today criticized the decision to postpone elections, calling it another failure of outside civilian agencies.

Cohen, who today inspected U.S. troops in the international peacekeeping force in Bosnia, said the postponment would only complicate matters. He said it would not delay the final departure of U.S. forces from Bosnia in mid-1998.