Bosnia to hold general elections on October 12

AFP , Thursday 15 May 2014

Bosnia will hold general elections on October 12, officials said Thursday, as the former Yugoslav republic has struggled to introduce economic and political reforms needed to join the EU.

Some 3.2 voters are registered for the polls to elect members of Bosnia's joint presidency and central parliament, as well as the assemblies of its two entities, Stjepan Mikic of the state electoral commission said.

Voters in the Bosnian Serb entity Republika Srpska -- which together with the Muslim-Croat Federation makes up post-war Bosnia -- will also elect their president, the post currently held by Milorad Dodik, in power since October 2010.

Dodik's Union of Independent Social-Democrats has been in power in the entity since February 2006.

A number of Serb opposition parties have recently joined forces in a "Union For Change" in a bid to win over Dodik's party.

In the Muslim-Croat Federation, voters will elect deputies for the councils of ten cantons that make up the other Bosnian entity.

Since the previous elections in October 2010, Bosnia has been shaken by the worst political crisis since the end of 1992-1995 inter-ethnic war.

In February, thousands of people took to the streets in a protest against the authorities' failure to fight widespread corruption, root out the so-called grey economy and introduce political and economic reforms necessary for Bosnia's EU bid.

Brussels has also called on Sarajevo to change its constitution to allow minorities to be able to run for office.

But the leaders of the three main ethnic groups have failed to reach a compromise over the issue, insisting on linking it to other reforms, such as changes to the country's presidency, which is held by a Bosnian, Serb and Croat at the same time for a four-year period.

As a result of the deadlock, Brussels halved its financial aid to Bosnia in 2013 from 87 to 42 million euros ($120 to 58 million).

Bosnia is lagging behind all other Balkan countries on its path towards membership in the EU.

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