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PRE-ELECTION MARKETING OF POLITICAL PARTIES
"Fresh" Messages by "Stale" Politicians
by S. SEHERCEHAJIC
Oslobodjenje, Sarajevo, Federation Bosnia-Hercegovina, B-H, October 24, 2000
Slightly more than two weeks are left until the general elections in Bosnia-Hercegovina (BH). The pre-election campaign is in full force. The freshly "washed" faces of "stale" politicians bombard us with messages every day at pre-election rallies, from billboards and every other form of poster and flyer. The battle to win office in BH has, since the adoption of OSCE's rule banning advertising in the electronic media, moved into the streets, into the movie theaters, into former cultural centers, into mailboxes - where citizens find every day utility bills and flyers with messages of political parties... The political parties, if we consider only the amount of paper used for flyers inserted into hundreds of thousands of mailboxes daily, the invoices for their printing, the wages of couriers engaged to deliver them... are truly investing a lot in this year's election campaign. What is the budget for pre-election marketing of individual parties? Who is coming up with their slogans? To what forms of advertising are they giving the greatest attention? This year, unlike in previous years, it was not easy to get to this information. Very few of the parties that we contacted yesterday were forthcoming in providing this type of information. Some asked us to submit these questions in writing only to later provide us with a sketchy response or no response.
300 billboards for BH
Nevertheless, according to what we did manage to learn, even before the pre-election campaign, a battle was waged to reserve space on the billboards of the Sarajevo company "Europlakat". The Party for Bosnia-Hercegovina (SBH), with 300 billboards throughout the country, appears to have the advantage here according to the information presently at our disposal. As we were told by party vice-president Safet Halilovic, a third of the billboards with this year's slogan "For BH without entities" are placed in Sarajevo, and there are some of them in Hercegovina and the Republic of Srpska (RS) as well. All budgetary resources which the party has, in accordance with its participation in the government at all levels, are being spent on the needs of the pre-election campaign. According to Halilovic, who nevertheless would not cite concrete numbers, expenses totaled "several hundreds of thousands of marks".
Posters, among them the one bearing the slogan "I want to go home," are being printed at a Sarajevo printing house. The Party of Democratic Action (SDA), according to its vice-president Sulejman Tihic, this year managed to reserve space on only 144 billboards, which are dominated by the slogan "SDA tradition and the future - let us outvote injustice and lies". "The slogan, actually, means let us outvote the injustice against the Bosniak people and let us win against the lies which have recently been heard against the SDA," explained Tihic and added that the party would introduce a new slogan by the end of the election campaign, which is secret for now. "Slogans are, we know, sensitive and consequently we should not talk about them until they have been made public," believes Tihic. The SDA also feels it has been slighted because "Europlakat" refused to advertise them in the Republic of Srpska because the company fears, says Tihic, that their equipment bearing the messages of the SDA might be the target of vandalism in this region. The SDA allowed the cantonal boards the possibility of promoting their own slogans, and one of them is that of the cantonal board in Sarajevo: "For a Sarajevo as beautiful as Sarajevo women." This party has also distributed more than two million flyers thus far on various topics.
Soles instead of wallets
As far as flyers are concerned, it seems that all of them this year say more about "why you should not vote for the others" while messages of the type "why you should vote for us" are not really emphasized. "In this pre-election campaign, the candidates of the Liberal Democratic Party (LDS) will wear out their soles more than their wallets," says the head of the election headquarters of the LDS, Nijaz Nurkovic. Their slogan, "You deserve better," with a photo of party leader Rasim Kadic symbolically represents direct contact with the voters, says Nurkovic. This party rented 66 billboards, which cost them 21,000 convertible marks per month plus 9,000 convertible marks for set-up. The LDS has also distributed approximately 100,000 flyers. In a sketchy written response by the BH Patriotic Party (BPS) of Sefer Halilovic it is said that only 15,000 convertible marks have been spent on advertising thus far. The BPS has four billboards bearing the slogan "We are for the Republic of BH." Unavoidable as part of this story are the Croatian Democratic Alliance (HDZ) (whose election slogan "Decision or extinction" appeared recently on billboards) and the Social Democratic Party of BH, which is has been holding a series of pre-election rallies throughout Bosnia under the slogan "With us BH can do better." We approached these political parties as well for more information but we did not get the information either due to the publishing deadline of this issue or because we could not find the appropriate people who could give us answers in their offices. In the sea of highly partisan pre-election messages, somehow a rather obvious message slipped in: "Give us your confidence; we'll give you a better life and jobs" signed by the Democratic National Alliance (DNZ). To those who read it we leave all possible associations of this pre-election slogan of "Babo's" [Fikret Abdic] party.
Translated by S. Lazovic (Nov. 6, 2000)
Halilovic Addressed Carla Del Ponte through his Lawyer Balijagic
"Crime in Grabovica was Premeditated"
Oslobodjenje, Sarajevo, Federation Bosnia-Hercegovina, B-H, October 23, 2000
Faruk Balijagic, the lawyer representing Sefer Halilovic, has sent a letter to the prosecutor of the International Tribunal for War Crimes in the former Yugoslavia, Carla Del Ponte. In the letter he states: "As you already know, I have filed charges against the organizers of the terrorist group 'Seve' [larks], specifically Bakir Alispahic, Jusuf Jasarevic, Enver Mujezinovic, Nedzad Herenda, Fikret Muslimovic, and others, because of suspicion that they have committed a war crime for political reasons against my client Sefer Halilovic. In the issue 177, published on October 10, 2000, the Sarajevo weekly Dani revealed the secret operation 'Seva'. The article published in Dani clearly indicates that in June 1993 Fikret Muslimovic, Bakir Alispahic, and Rasim Delic approved the planned assassination of my client, General Sefer Halilovic. This monstrous and devious plan failed and Muslimovic, Alispahic and Delic murdered, instead of my client Sefer Halilovic, his wife Mediha Halilovic and her brother Edin Rondic. After this event Rasim Delic, Bakir Alispahic, and Fikret Muslimovic informed their boss Alija Izetbegovic about the unsuccessful plan for the assassination of Sefer Halilovic. Then, Alija Izetbegovic came up with an even more devious plan to destroy Halilovic. He decided to discredit Halilovic as a war criminal. Through Rasim Delic he organized operation 'Neretva 93' and decided to carry out a massacre of Croat civilians and frame Sefer Halilovic for it, because Sefer Halilovic was the biggest obstacle to his plan for the division of Bosnia-Hercegovina into three parts. After making sure that Sefer Halilovic in practice had no power to affect the military activities, the conspirators ordered the crime in the Croat village of Grabovica. Later, they prepared fake witnesses, who were bribed with expensive cars, office space, apartments and financial contributions, so that the witnesses would testify in front of the Hague Tribunal about personal responsibility of Sefer Halilovic for this crime. Having in mind that the judiciary of the Federation Bosnia-Hercegovina does not want to process a single crime I plead with you to take into account this information and do not neglect the role of Alija Izetbegovic and the terrorist group 'Seva' in the investigation of the crime in Grabovica. The crime in Grabovica was premeditated and its goal was to prove that the common life of Muslims and Croats is impossible. I am sending one copy of this letter to the Federation prosecutor, Suljo Babic, and cantonal prosecutor Mustafa Bisic with the advice that they take into custody Bakir Alispahic, Fikret Muslimovic and Rasim Delic, as well as all other individuals responsible for the crime in Grabovica," concludes the letter signed by Faruk Balijagic.
After Eight Years in Captivity in Serbia
Ahmo Mehic from Srebrenica Returned Home!
by Ramo KOLAR
Oslobodjenje, Sarajevo, Federation Bosnia-Hercegovina, B-H, September 23, 2000
Ahmo Mehic (born in 1941), from the village of Gladovici near Srebrenica, after eight years spent in captivity and wandering through mines, refugee camps and forests in Serbia and Kosovo, finally showed up in Sarajevo three days ago. His wife Kada, as well as other relatives, haven't heard about him since May 2, 1992, when Ahmo was taken by the Serb soldiers in unknown direction, until a phone recently rang in the home of his relative Mevludin in Sarajevo and a stranger form Bijeljina said: "Ahmo is here with me. Come to get him because he is hiding. We do not dare report him anywhere." Ahmo's wife was at the time at this cousin's place, and she fainted on the spot. The following morning, Mevludin called the phone number in Bijeljina and, really, a man picked up. "At first, of course, I could not recognize him. I was still doubtful," says excited Mevludin.
However, soon he agreed with the stranger from Bijeljina that she should put Ahmo on any bus going to Sarajevo. When they went to greet him at the bus station, Kada again fainted, and the rest for a long time watched a skinny, bearded and small man covered with grease. He was wearing glasses, had a lost stare, and did not say a word. "Let me be honest. I do not know where I am, who I am, nor how I got here. I only know that I have been beaten on every step and by everyone I met, the Serb Army, Police, refugees from Bosnia, Roma and in the end even Albanians. My life is not worth a dime". After being taken from Srebrenica and later Bratunac he ended up in the mine Goles near Pristina where he spent almost three years, working as many as three shifts for a piece of bread and a pack of cigarettes. Then the Serb refugees from Bosnia arrived and Ahmo's life became hell. Before, he had rarely been beaten, but the refugees made up for everything. His eyes, ribs, teeth were hurt. From there Serbs moved him to Kosovo Polje, to some barracks he shared with Roma. He was also beaten there and ate boiled potatoes for days. Then he went to Pristina, then back to Kosovo Polje where he was during the war in Kosovo. After the last Serb beating, in the ensuing chaos he ended up free and wondered around, he does not know where. He was somehow sent to Radusa near Skoplje, where he spent three months, and then back to Goles where he was treated with beatings by Albanians. He finally decided to head on foot to Bosnia! After many adventures he ended up in Bajina Basta where he was caught by the Police. They questioned him for two days and two nights, gave him some money (!) and sent him to Bosnia. From there, Ahmo Mehic, beaten, exhausted, weak of sight, down to 40 kilos from 91 he had at the time of abduction, he wondered around until a stranger took him to a "secure" house in Bijeljina and whispered to the owner who Ahmo was and where he was from. The host took him in, found the phone number of his relative Mevludin and informed him that Ahmo was alive. "When I saw him I could not recognize him. How could I? I only know that it started spinning and I fell and woke up in the ambulance. When he stepped down from a bus, I could not believe. For eight years, not a word about him. I thought he was dead," wife Kada says through tears. She has recently come to stay with Mevludin from a collective center in Zivinice. Ahmo Mehic, who had both eyes operated on in Pristina, when he got some "freedom", as a result of numerous blows perpetually stares at the ground or lets his gaze wonder around, says: "My son, I haven't seen my loved ones for eight years, I did not know whether they were alive. They pulled me around, I slept everywhere, I was beaten by the Police, Army, refugees, Albanians, anyone who could spare some time. I do not want to live. If only I could rest for a while and get it together, remember where I wondered, what happened to me, check whether this is really me or only a dream." Before the war Mehic worked for Belgrade company "Beosonda", all the time in the field in Serbia and Kosovo. On April 10  he came back home to use up his "free days". He was waiting to be called back to work. Instead of ten days, as had originally been agreed, he stayed at home until May 2, 1992. That day some Serb soldiers in uniforms came to get him. Without a word of explanation, he became a miner! He hasn't seen his company since them.
Ahmo Did Not See Anyone from Srebrenica in Serbia
After yesterday's check up in the emergency care center of the Kosevo hospital, where many ailments were diagnosed, Ahmo gave a statement for the Police. His wife Kada is still shaking. She says that they will rest for a few days at their relative's place in Sarajevo. And then? "I do not know what we're going to do. I cannot take him back to the collective center, the barracks, in Zivinice. It is too crowded. We are like sardines in a can. However, we have to go there. I do not have a pension, since the state has not given me anything unlike to those whose loved ones went missing in 1995. We have nothing to live on. I hope that someone will remember me in this state, 'Mothers of Srebrenica' or the municipality, or the canton, I do not know, my son". Ahmo Mehic, clambering into a car with difficulty, says that his only surviving relative is his sister, whose two loved ones disappeared in Srebrenica. Mehic did not see or hear anyone else from Srebrenica in camps, mines or elsewhere in Serbia.
Ambassador Robert Barry, as the President of the Temporary Election Commission
30 Bosniaks, 30 Croats and 20 Representatives of Others in the House of Nations of the Federation Bosnia-Hercegovina
by Amra KEBO
Oslobodjenje, Sarajevo, Federation Bosnia-Hercegovina, B-H, October 10, 2000
The OSCE Temporary Election Commission (TEC) came to a decision that after the general election the House of Nations [upper chamber of the FBH Parliament] of the Federation Bosnia-Hercegovina (FBH) will be made up from 30 representatives of the Bosniak nation, 30 Croat representatives and 20 representatives of others (mostly Serbs). This was announced on Wednesday by ambassador Robert Barry as the president of the TEC. Besides this decision, the TEC also adopted the Rules and Regulations under which the House of Nations of the Parliament of Bosnia-Hercegovina (BH) will be set up, as well as the way in which the president and vice-president of the FBH will be elected. Ambassador Barry emphasized that a majority of the TEC members were against this decision but that he forced it through as the President of the TEC. He emphasized that these rules are not related to the general elections but that they had to be implemented in order to implement the results of the elections.
By the way, the rules related to the election of representatives in the House of Nations by cantonal parliaments were taken from the proposed election law, as demanded by the Governing Board of the Peace Implementation Council form Brussels. The OSCE Mission chief emphasized that these rules have two important novelties. The first one makes sure that all members of cantonal parliaments vote for all cantonal representatives in the FBH House of Nations. This is proportional voting, in which every candidate on the list is identified as a Bosniak, Croat, or other. An ethnic quota for every canton will secure that Croats have 30 representatives in the FBH Parliament, Bosniaks 30 and others 20 representatives. The new rule makes sure that as many spots as possible are filled by redistribution of available seats between cantons. Proposed rules, emphasized ambassador Barry, aim to establish a good balance between ethnic and political dimensions of the elections, taking into account the representation of all parties in the parliament. This way, actually, it is made sure that representatives from every canton in the FBH House of Nations reflect the power of electorate in that canton, while at the same time the minimum of representation for every canton is secured. The TEC also adopted the rule that will regulate the distribution of seats according to ethnicity in cantons of the FBH House of Nations, which will be subject to small changes. Therefore canton 1 will have four Bosniaks, three Croats and 3 representatives of others, canton 2 no Bosniaks, two Croats and two representatives of others, canton 3 seven Bosniaks, four Croats and three representatives of others, canton 4 five Bosniaks, five Croats and three representatives of others, canton 5 one Bosniak, four Croats and two representatives of others, canton 6 four Bosniaks, one Croat and one representative of others, canton 7 four Croats and Bosniaks each and one representative of others, canton 8 only three Croats, canton 9 five Bosniaks, two Croats and six representatives of others, and canton 10 two Croats and one representative of others. According to this division, the FBH House of Nations will, instead of 12 as until now, have 20 representatives of others. In the election of the President and vice-president of the FBH the rules allow representatives of others to participate in the nomination of candidates. Until now representatives of other nations had no influence on this election because only Croat and Bosniak representative were allowed to participate in the nomination process. As far as the House of Nations of the BH Parliament is concerned the rule of proportional representation was adopted. "That means that the seats will not be distributed according to the system in which the largest party gets all seats, but based on the number of votes received in the elections," explained ambassador Barry. He gave the example that if one party wins 60 percent of votes, then it will take 60 percent of seats. To the question regarding the process of voting for members of the House of Nations from cantonal parliaments, ambassador Barry stated that the basic novelty is that all members of cantonal parliaments will vote for delegates from all three nations and that delegates must choose on which list they will be.
"This is a change with respect to the solution given in the FBH Constitution, according to which voting goes according to ethnicity, therefore Croats vote for Croats, and Bosniaks for Bosniaks. We are abandoning this system because the new method is more democratic. Also, this method is more closely aligned with the decision of the BH Constitutional Court regarding the constituent character of all nations [in both entities]," said ambassador Barry. Barry emphasized that the goal of this decision is not to influence the implementation of the decision of the BH Constitutional Court regarding constituent character of nations [in both entities], since that is the job of constitutions of the entities.
Translated on November 9, 2000