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Croatia: OSCE Judges Croatia Elections Free But Not Fair

Zagreb, 16 June 1997 (RFE/RL) - The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) says yesterday's Croatian presidential election which President Franjo Tudjman won was free but not fair.

The assessment comes in a statement today from former U.S. Senator Paul Simon, the special coordinator for the OSCE's election observation mission.

Simon said actual polling was, with some exceptions conducted efficiently. But he said campaigning did not meet the minimum standards for democracies.

Before the vote opposition candidates had already branded the campaign biased and undemocratic because of Tudjman's control of the media, especially television. They also faulted him for using his position to promote his candidacy.

Tudjman easily won another five-year term. Croatian State Radio, quoting the state electoral commission, reported that Tudjman won over 61 percent of the votes.

Zdravko Tomac of the ex-communist Social Democratic party took second place with about 21 percent and Vlado Gotovac of the Social Liberal party third place with over 17 percent.

Election officials said at a news conference that turnout was 57 percent.

Bosnia today greeted Croatian President Franjo Tudjman's victory by calling on him to respect his obligations to Bosnia.

Mirza Hajric, spokesman for Bosnian President Alija Izetbegovic, said Croatia must respect the sovereignty of Bosnia. He said this is the only way there can be better relations between the two countries.