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Bosnian Serb opposition parties call for vote recount

Opposition parties in the Republika Srpska entity of Bosnia have accused longtime Serb leader Milorad Dodik of fraud.

Opposition parties in the Bosnian Serb entity have formally called for a recount of votes cast over the weekend during general elections, after accusing Serb leader Milorad Dodik of fraud.

The vote held in the Republika Srpska (RS) must be annulled due to the discovery of “hundreds of irregularities”, Branislav Borenovic, leader of the conservative PDP party, said on Wednesday outside the headquarters of the Central Election Commission in Sarajevo.

With the vast majority of votes counted, Dodik looked poised to secure another term as RS president.

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Dodik received 48 percent of the vote, while her rival Jelena Trivic got 43 percent, with more than 95 percent of constituencies represented. A total of 617,000 citizens participated.

After polls closed on Sunday, Trivic claimed victory in the race, saying he enjoyed a sizeable lead that Dodik could not overcome.

But just hours later, Dodik said preliminary results had him leading the contest, prompting accusations of fraud from the opposition.

“I will not acknowledge the theft of the will of the people,” Trivic told reporters, with his party saying that more than 65,000 votes had been “tainted” by irregularities.

In many polling stations, for example, opposition monitors were kicked out by thugs before the count was complete.

Results lists emerged in many polling stations, according to which a conspicuously high number of votes were cast for unknown candidates and not a single vote for Trivic.

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“We will not give up until the truth emerges and justice prevails,” Borenovic said.

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The opposition SDS party has also called for a recount.

Dodik rejected the accusations, saying a recount was “unrealistic.”

“Our victory is beyond reproach,” Dodik said Wednesday.

Opposition representatives have called protests for Thursday in the city of Banja Luka.

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Dodik has dominated politics in the Serbian part of the country for two decades. For years, he has stoked tensions with his frequent calls on Bosnian Serbs to further secede from the country’s central institutions, earning him fresh US sanctions in January.

Trivic, a 39-year-old economics professor, sought to offer an alternative to Dodik by running on an anti-corruption ticket.

The election for the RS presidency was one of a dizzying number of contests held over the weekend in which a variety of candidates ran for seats in the Bosnian Serb entity and the Bosnian-Croat federation.

The Balkan state has been governed by a complicated administrative system created by the 1995 Dayton Agreement that managed to end the conflict in the 1990s, but largely failed to provide a framework for the country’s political development.

In the aftermath of the war, ethnic political parties have long exploited the country’s divisions in an attempt to maintain power.

In the weekend’s contests, all three established ethnic parties scored major victories.

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The one exception was the defeat of Bakir Izetbegovic, a two-time member of the country’s tripartite president who also heads the main Bosnian party, the SDA.

Izetbegovic was beaten by another professor, Denis Becirovic, in a double-digit landslide victory.

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