Bosnia gives Srebrenica survivors new voting rights

Bosnia-Herzegovina's state parliament passed amendments to the country's elections law Wednesday in Sarajevo, changing voting rules for voters of the eastern town of Srebrenica.

Bosnia gives Srebrenica survivors new voting rights
Both chambers of Bosnia-Herzegovina's Parliamentary Assembly decided in a plenary session to allow Bosnian Muslims, former residents of Srebrenica, to choose whether to vote for the local authorities in that town or for the local authorities of the municipality in which they now live.

Up to 8,000 Bosnian Muslim men were massacred after Bosnian Serb troops captured the former eastern Muslim enclave of Srebrenica on July 11, 1995, during the 1992-95 war in Bosnia-Herzegovina.

More than 30,000 women, children and elderly people were expelled from their homes in Srebrenica, most of whom later found refuge in Sarajevo's suburbs or in Tuzla.

It is estimated that several thousands Muslims returned to Srebrenica after the war, while more than 25,000 still live in other parts of the country or abroad.

Most of the former Srebrenica's residents registered after the war in other municipalities within the Bosnian Muslim-Croat Federation entity in order to ease administrative procedures for regulating social status or insurance, loosing the right to vote in Srebrenica.

Only those who returned to Srebrenica after the war, or those who registered there as returnees but who are still living somewhere else, have so far been able to vote for the town's authorities.

The changes to the election law would now allow every former resident of Srebrenica to vote for the local authorities there regardless of where they are residing on the condition that they register on the voters' list of Srebrenica municipality.

Former Srebrenica residents may also decide to vote for the local municipalities in which they live.

The rule is expected to be applied only at the forthcoming local elections in Bosnia that are due to take place this autumn.

The new voting procedures for Srebrenica were also expected to intensify the return of its prewar citizens.

Ambassadors from the Peace Implementation Council's (PIC) Steering Board, which oversees peace in Bosnia-Herzegovina, welcomed the parliament's decision.

"Adoption of this amendment takes into account the human tragedy of Srebrenica and should be seen as a gesture of good will. "Srebrenica can turn from a symbol of tragedy into a symbol of political wisdom, responsibility and economic progress," the PIC ambassadors said in a statement.

Last Mod: 08 Mayıs 2008, 08:52
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