Bosnia and Herzegovina

Bosnia's November elections : Dayton stumbles

Originally published
Sarajevo/Brussels, 18 December 2000: Despite five years and five billion US dollars of international community investment in Bosnia, the 11 November Bosnian elections confirmed the strength of extreme nationalist parties and demonstrated once again that international engagement has so far failed to provide a sustainable basis for a functioning state, according to a briefing report to be released today by the International Crisis Group (ICG).
"These elections have highlighted once again the near complete failure in the face of determined nationalist extremism of an international approach based on hopes that moderate, co-operative Bosnian partners will come to power through elections", said Gareth Evans, ICG President. "The elections also revealed the unsuitability of the present Dayton constitutional structures, and the limitations of the international community's supervisory role".

ICG's report maintains that the international community's approach will continue to produce few positive results, particularly in the near power-vacuum created by these elections.

"Of course the international community has to stay engaged if the whole peace process is not to unravel", Mr Evans said. "But to make real progress, the international authorities are going to have to fully exercise the powers given to them under the Dayton Peace Accord to attack the economic and political causes of the tenacity of Bosnian nationalism".

The precise impact of the election results will be impossible to gauge until coalitions are formed, a process which could last well into the first months of 2001. Even then, the resulting coalitions may be extremely fragile, and therefore unable to act decisively in key areas of peace process implementation.

Critical questions that remain to be addressed include how best to curb the influence of extremists in the post-election environment, and how and to what extent to modify the governance provisions in the Dayton Agreement. These issues will be the subject of forthcoming ICG reports.