World Bulletin / News Desk
Bosnian Muslims have voted down a bid to put a Serb mayor in control of Srebrenica for the first time since the massacre of 8,000 Muslims in the town by Bosnian Serb forces in 1995.
Once predominantly Muslim, Srebrenica was the site of the worst mass killing on European soil since World War Two, when Bosnian Serb forces killed Muslim men and boys near the end of the country's 1992-95 war.
A Bosnian Serb party, which rejects a United Nations ruling that the Srebrenica killings constituted genocide, launched a bid to win the post of mayor in the local election on Oct. 7.
Many Bosniaks saw the prospect of a Serb mayor taking control as a threat to their efforts to keep the memory of the crime alive and to the status of a memorial complex where more than 5,600 victims of the massacres are interred.
Camil Durakovic, the Bosniak candidate, led the drive to register some 2,000 absent voters, and a final vote count at the weekend showed him to be the victor.
"If it wasn't for this registration of voters, I would have never won," Durakovic told Reuters. "From today, I'll be the mayor of all citizens of Srebrenica."
A coalition of Serb parties has complained of irregularities and urged a partial repeat of the vote.
"The decision as to who will run the town for the next four years was brought by people who don't live there," said Rajko Vasic, a senior member of the Alliance of Independent Social Democrats led by Milorad Dodik, leader of Bosnia's autonomous Serb Republic.
Barely 15 percent of the town's 27,600 pre-war Muslim residents, known as Bosniaks, has been able to return to the town. Many of the others are scattered across Bosnia and around the world.
In previous years, those Bosniaks were allowed to vote in Srebrenica, but they were banned from doing so this year.