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Bosnia: Krajisnik Says Governing Coalition Will Be Necessary

Pale, 26 November 1997 (RFE/RL) -- A chief aide to indicted Bosnian war crimes suspect Radovan Karadzic says his party's strong standing in weekend elections is only a relative victory. Momcilo Krajisnik, who is also the Serb member of Bosnia's Tripartite presidency, said today it appears that no single political party will be able to govern without a coalition partner.

Krajisnik made the statement based on partial, unofficial results released by the Bosnian Serb election commission in Pale -- the headquarters of Karadzic's allies.

Karadzic's chief rival, Bosnian President Biljana Plavsic, is disputing Pale's unofficial results. She said the commission has no right to announce an election tally, and that Pale's vote count should not be taken seriously.

Any final result in the elections must be certified by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), which monitored the elections.

Between 150,000 and 300,000 votes were cast abroad by Muslim refugees and have not yet been tallied. Correspondents say those votes could tilt the balance of the elections away from Bosnia Serb hardliners in Pale.

Meanwhile in Copenhagen, the chairman of the OSCE said the weekend elections failed to meet democratic norms.

Niels Helveg Petersen -- who is also Denmark's foreign minister -- said voting for a new Bosnian Serb parliament "fell far short of normal democratic standards." But he said the elections had been "technically sound."

Petersen said official results of the poll will not be known before December 10. But he said the OSCE expects the moderate Serb National Alliance of Bosnian Serb President Plavsic to win enough votes to prevent the hardline Serb Democratic Party from having an absolute majority in parliament.

His comments came as Bosnian Serb radio and television cited election officials in the entity as reporting partial, unofficial results showing hardline nationalists in the lead.

Meanwhile in London, the international community's High Representative in Bosnia says he believes international troops will be needed there for two to three more years.

In an interview today in the "Financial Times" newspaper, Carlos Westendorp says that if the troops leave now, the killings and the ethnic cleansing will return.

The mandate of the NATO-led Stabilisation Force (SFOR) is due to run out at the end of June. U.S. President Bill Clinton and members of Congress have so far failed to agree on whether to maintain the U.S. presence. Other contributor nations say they will not participate if Washington withdraws.

Westendorp said it might not be necessary to retain all 30,000 SFOR troops for three years. He said the international police task force, election supervisors and refugee workers in Bosnia will all need SFOR protection at least for the next year.