SARAJEVO, January 24 (FENA) – After the Central Election Commission (CEC) of Bosnia and Herzegovina annulled the elections in Srebrenica and Doboj, CEC member Suad Arnautović reminded that the institution has the first instance competence to decide on complaints filed for violating the rules of the electoral process and electoral rights.
As he explained in an interview with FENA, some political officials in BiH assessed that the repeated local elections will have the same election results, but the CEC does not act in the way the results will be but assesses whether there was a violation of the election process.
“In both constituencies Srebrenica and Doboj, we noticed a large number of violations of the rules of the election process and the impossibility of exercising the right to vote of certain participants in the election process, especially observers of the election process and some participants,” Arnautović underlined.
According to the procedures, anyone who thinks that their right has been violated can file an appeal against such a decision of the CEC to the Appellate Division of the Court of BiH as prescribed by the Election Law.
This department of the Court is competent to decide on appeals against CEC decisions, and appeals are submitted through the CEC within two days, while the Appellate Division of the Court of BiH is obliged to decide within three days from the day of receipt.
Therefore, Arnautović expressed the expectation that the decisions of the Court of BiH will be completed next week and that further measures will be taken accordingly.
However, if the CEC decisions remain the same when it comes to Srebrenica and Doboj on the annulment of the elections, they will be implemented again based on the same candidate lists and the same excerpts from the Central Voters’ Register that were used in the annulled elections. The elections will be held on the day determined by the CEC, and no later than 14 days from the day of the CEC decision on the annulment of the elections becomes final.
Asked whether there will be a change in the composition of polling boards, bearing in mind that a large number of complaints related to the work of these boards, Arnautović said that he does not know how the CEC would decide, but announced that he would demand a change in the composition of polling boards.
He says he has a rational basis for such a request because he believes the same polling board members cannot re-organize elections where they have been annulled.
When it comes to the elections in Travnik, they will be repeated due to the situation that the candidate for mayor of that municipality passed away during the Election Day, and for the municipality of Ustikolina-Foča the elected candidate passed away a few days ago.
This is a different situation of the elections and early elections will be organized there within 90 days from the day of the dissolution of the elected body or the termination of the mandate. Not less than 30 or more than 90 days may elapse from the day of calling early elections to the day of holding.
As Arnautović explained, considering that the candidates have passed away, political entities will be able to submit new candidates and the procedure of registration and certification of political entities will be open as if they were new elections, but the mandate of the one elected will last until the current mandate expires.
CEC member Suad Arnautović also referred to the attacks of certain political representatives in BiH on members of the Central Election Commission.
He noted that CEC members are obliged to adhere to the principles of independence and impartiality in their work, and none of them can participate in decision-making in cases where his/her ability to act impartially may be questioned.
He claims that CEC members were targeted for claiming to belong to someone, and that xenophobic vocabulary and hate speech are used, which is completely inappropriate in a multiethnic and multicultural society.
Arnautović expressed the expectation that public opinion and non-governmental organizations dealing with the protection of human rights would respond adequately and stand in defense of certain members of the CEC who were exposed to attacks.
This is especially present, he points out, since March 2020, when there were structural changes in the composition of the Central Election Commission (CEC), because he reminds that certain political forces even questioned the composition of the CEC before the United Nations Security Council.
It is obvious that the current composition of the CEC, says Arnautović, acting professionally and independently does not suit individual political entities and believes that because of that attacks and pressures will be even greater as the 2022 General Elections approach, but he hopes that the CEC will continue to act on the principles of independence and impartiality.