SEPTEMBER 13, 1996
Saturday's elections are the next step in the U.S.-brokered Dayton plan to bring peace to Bosnia. Under the plan, Bosnia was divided into two entities, Serb and Muslim-Croat. The elections are aimed at bringing those two entities together in a unified Bosnian state. Elizabeth Farnsworth talks to two former diplomats about the significance of the vote following an ITN report on how it will be conducted.
A RealAudio version of this NewsHour segment is available.
Sept. 13, 1996
Two Ambassadors preview Saturday's Bosnian election.
Aug. 6, 1996
Assistant Secretary of State John Kornblum discusses preparations for the Bosnian elections.
July 22, 1996
Richard Holbrooke discusses his efforts to remove Radovan Karadzic from power.
May 8, 1996
State Department ambassador-at-large Robert Gallucci discusses election preparations in Bosnia.
Browse the NewsHour's Bosnia Index
GABY RADO, ITN: The first people to vote inside Bosnia, itself, were soldiers and policemen who will have to cast their ballots a day early because they'll have the job of maintaining law and order in what was always going to be a tense day for democracy. The highest level of security will give 19 official crossing points in the former front line, where hundreds of buses will take Muslim and Croat refugees to vote in the areas in which they were driven out during the war. At this one near Serb-held Daboy in Northern Bosnia, NATO's implementation force, IFOR, expect between two and five thousand to cross over. The reason why they're there is to make sure the voters are not attacked by their former enemies. IFOR have set up a high-tech command and control center near Sarajevo to ensure they're ready to react if serious incidents do break out.
MAJ. BRETT BOUDREAU, IFOR: If we come across obstacles or obstructions in the way of allowing voters to get the polling stations, we will act to remove them. Albeit we are a force of last resort, we'll encourage the local police commanders to take action to remove those roadblocks, but if they need some encouragement, if it's beyond their capacity to do so, then IFOR will make it happen.
MR. RADO: The political campaigning had to end last night. This was the Bosnian Serb ruling party's rally at which its leader, Biljana Plavsic, continued to promise that the Bosnian Serb mini state would one day join Serbia, rejecting the unitary Bosnia set out in the Dayton peace plan. Today she had to agree to read out on TV news an apology for her statements, a punishment imposed by the OSCE, the international organizers of the election. And an hour before she was expected to do so, Ms. Plavsic appeared in the first of three broadcasts she's been ordered to make. She said her party's goal was not to unite all the Serbs and the Balkans into one state now or in the future. But claiming that the OSCE hasn't been tough enough in such cases, a senior Bosnian Muslim official resigned from one of the election monitoring committees earlier this week.
SPOKESMAN: All OSCE officials form the highest level have stopped talking about free and fair elections. Now they're talking about the best elections possible in the current conditions. I think that it's about time that international community decides, tries--tries first something on mice before they try it on the citizens of Bosnia-Herzegovina, because we suffered so much already.
MR. RADO: The elections will involve four separate ballots in the Muslim-Croat Federation and five in the Serb-controlled areas. They were today described as the most complex elections in history. The organizers take pride in the fact that the vote will be on time with no boycotts or other disruption.
AMB. ROBERT FROWICK, U.S. Election Monitor: The peace agreement says we should aim for free and fair and democratic elections. That has been our goal. I think the process that we've created has brought it along to a considerable extent in that direction, and I believe that we have the prospect of a reasonably democratic result that would be in keeping with what's intended in the peace agreement.
MR. RADO: The man whose cajoling of the Bosnian factions made the Dayton Agreement and these elections possible arrived in Sarajevo to witness the new democracy at its birth, but he warned against the nationalism which threatens to split Bosnia.
RICHARD HOLBROOKE: President Clinton a year ago stated his own view on the secession issue. The United States Government has never changed its view on that. This election is not about secession or to legitimize secession. This is election is about creating the central institutions of a single Bosnia-Herzegovina with a loose central government. Let's be very clear.
MR. RADO: The reason why is a sign of just how fraught with danger the road to democracy is in Bosnia. And no amount of security will ensure that the people will vote the way the international community wants them to.