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Bosnian Croats Protest Election Of Moderate Komsic For Presidency's Croat Seat

Protesters demonstrate in Mostar against the election of Zeljko Komsic as a member of the presidency of Bosnia-Herzegovina.
Protesters demonstrate in Mostar against the election of Zeljko Komsic as a member of the presidency of Bosnia-Herzegovina.

Several thousand Bosnian Croat nationalists have protested the election of a moderate politician to the Croat seat in Bosnia-Herzegovina's three-member presidency.

The crowd marched through the ethnically divided southern town of Mostar on October 11, holding banners reading "Not my president" and "RIP democracy" to protest Zeljko Komsic's victory.

Bosnia's presidency also has a Muslim and a Serb member.

A peace deal that ended Bosnia's 1992-95 ethnic war created a Muslim-Croat region and a Serb region held together by a central government led by the tripartite presidency.

Komsic advocates strengthening Bosnia's unity. Nationalists are disputing his win in an election on October 7, saying he was backed by Muslim voters and does not represent Croats.

Persistent ethnic divisions in Bosnia have held the country back from advancing toward European Union and NATO membership since the war.

The protesters in Mostar also lit candles outside the local office of the Croat presidency. The office was established by Komsic's predecessor, Dragan Covic, the Croatian Democratic Union party candidate who lost the election.

Covic has called for the formation of a third, Croat, entity in Bosnia, which would mean further division of the country along ethnic lines.

Some Bosnian Croat-dominated municipalities have declared Komsic unwelcome in their communities.

Many of the protesters said Komsic had only won because of the votes of Muslim Bosniaks -- an assertion made by Covic after the vote.

Komsic's election has also been criticized by neighboring Croatia.

"We are again in a situation where members of one constituent people...are electing a representative of another, the Croat people," Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic said earlier this week

A bid by nationalists to carve Bosnia along ethnic lines was at the core of the 1990s conflict that killed 100,000 people and left millions homeless.

Based on reporting by AP and Reuters
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