Vote count begins in Bosnia and Herzegovina election

By Talha Ozturk

BELGRADE, Serbia (AA) – Some 43.4 percent of the votes have been counted from Sunday's presidential and parliamentary elections in the Bosnia and Herzegovina — the eighth in the country since the end of the Bosnian War nearly 20 years ago.

According to initial results, Milorad Dodik from the Alliance of Independent Social Democrats (SNSD) declared victory for Serb membership for the Presidency, receiving 55.1 percent of the votes tallied.

"This victory is as pure as a tear," said Dodik.

Sefik Dzaferovic, the candidate of the Party of Democratic Action (SDA) is leading for the Bosniak seat on the presidency with 37.9 percent of the votes.

The SDA head Bakir Izetbegovic described the victory they had in the election as "spectacular".

"SDA was the most powerful political party as usual," said Izetbegovic.

Dzaferovic said: "According to the current results, I am in the lead and I won the race for the Bosniak member of the Presidency."

Zeljko Komsic from the Democratic Front-DF said he is the new Croat member of the Presidency, winning 49.4 of the votes.

Komsic earlier served as Croat member of the council for two terms, a total of eight years.

"I will try to make no mistake in the future political engagement. We will not tolerate interference in Bosnia's internal affairs," said Komsic.

According to the Central Election Commission (CIK), the polls were closed at 19.00 p.m. (1700GMT), voter participation was at 53.35 percent or a total of 1,736,838 people.

Some 3.35 million people were expected to vote at 5,794 polling stations.

-Election brawl

One of the country's two entities, Republika Srpska (RS), said in a statement from the Interior Ministry that a ballot box had been damaged due to a brawl at a voting center in the northeastern city of Bijeljina. Voting was suspended for an hour.

Bosnia and Herzegovina has two entities, 10 cantons, and an autonomous region. The country's complex political structure, the crippling economic crisis and memories of the war make the election even more complicated.

Voters choose representatives of the national parliament, the three-member national presidency, the parliaments of the country’s two entities and other bodies.

They elect parliamentarians of the two councils — the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina (FBIH) and the Republika Srpska (RS), the country's two constitutional entities.

They also vote for members of the Bosnian federation's 10 cantons.

Fifteen candidates — six Bosnians, five Croats, four Serbs — competed for the rotating chairmanship of the three-member Presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

– 67 political parties, 34 independent candidates, 34 alliances

The Bosnia and Herzegovina election authority cleared 67 political parties to participate in the elections. This is the highest figure since the 2002 elections.

The elections also saw 34 independent candidates and 34 alliances at various levels of the state functions.

In total nearly 7,500 candidates are running for 518 posts, an average of 14 candidates for each post.