Bosnian Serb nationalist Milorad Dodik has taken the lead in a vote for his community’s seat on Bosnia-Herzegovina’s three-member presidency, as the Balkan country awaits final results due later on October 8.
The main Bosniak party said its candidate, Sefik Dzaferovic, will be the Muslim representative in the presidency.
And Croat voters returned Zelijko Komsic to their presidential seat.
Bosnia is split into two entities: the ethnic Serb-dominated Republika Srpska and the Muslim-Croat Federation of Bosniaks and Croats. The two entities are linked by joint state-level institutions, including a tripartite presidency.
Voters on October 7 were choosing leaders for the three-member presidency, as well as parliamentary legislatures and canton assemblies in what may be the world’s most complicated political system.
Turnout was 53.3 percent of the country’s 3.3 million eligible voters, election officials said. No major incidents were reported on election day.
The Bosnian election commission said Dodik, who has led Republika Srpska since 2006, had 55.2 percent of the vote with 53 percent of ballots counted, topping moderate incumbent Mladen Ivanic with 42 percent.
Ivanic conceded defeat.
Dodik, who has close links with Russia and favors a split-up of the Balkan country, told a news conference early on October 8 that his “first priority will be the position of the Serb people and of Republika Srspka.”
“I believe that Bosnia-Herzegovina also may progress if everyone is respected,” the head of the Alliance of Independent Social Democrats said in Banja Luka, the administrative center of the Serb entity.
Dzaferovic of the Party of Democratic Action (SDA) was leading for the Bosniak seat in the presidency with 38 percent of the vote.
“I am leading and have won the seat in Bosnia’s presidency,” Dzaferovic told a news conference.
Komsic, a Social Democrat who has served two terms in the presidency, was leading with 49.5 percent of the vote over nationalist Dragan Covic from the largest Croat HDZ party.
Covic, who had 38 percent, has called for the creation of a separate entity for Croats.
Covic conceded defeat but warned of a “never-seen-before” crisis in the country.
Komsic sought to reassure all voters, saying, “I will serve all citizens, even if they didn’t vote for me.”
The elections have heightened tensions between Bosniak Muslim and Bosnian Serb officials, who have been at loggerheads since the 1995 U.S.-brokered Dayton peace accords ended the wars that ripped Yugoslavia apart.
The vote came with Bosnia sitting at a crossroads: Either it continues to pursue its path toward deeper Euro-Atlantic ties, or its ethnic rivalries further derail progress toward European Union membership and NATO integration.
Though the Bosnian war ended in 1995, wounds from the three-year conflict that claimed some 100,000 lives and displaced about 2 million people continue to fester.