Elections in Stolac

Political background of the appointment of BiH CEC members became has become evident as never before, especially in the case of Stolac municipality. There were tensions between the two opposite political and national blocks in Stolac months before the 2016 Election Day.

There were serious accusations and suspicions that attempts will be made on the Election Day to misuse the voters' register, to vote with the identication documents that are not set forth by the Election Law and to misuse voters' will in any other way. BiH CEC did not successfully recognize the risks that the Election Day in Stolac would bring, and it subsequently climaxed with interruption of voting at 17 out of 19 polling stations.  Coalition “Pod lupom” was the first to inform the BiH CEC and the public thereof. Due to earlier mentioned political background of the BiH CEC's appointment, and impossibility to achieve political consensus, the BiH CEC had launched a procedure to determine responsibility for the events in Stolac only a month after the elections. After the procedure was closed, the BiH CEC passed a decision dismissing all members of the MEC Stolac, and prohibiting their engagement in the election administration for four years. The vote on the decision was tight (four to three). The political subjects and their candidates who are brought into connection with disruption of the voting were removed from the candidates' lists and pronounced pecuniary nes. The BiH CEC's decisions were appealed before the Appellate Division of the BiH Court that admitted appeals relating to the sanctions pronounced to the political subjects and candidates, and returned the decisions to the BiH CEC for reconsideration.

Divisions inside the BiH CEC, both political and ethnic in a way, were quite visible during the decisionmaking process, and had continued by BiH Court's rejection of the decisions. Furthermore, the case of Stolac and interruption of elections also highlighted shortcomings of the Election Law in terms of passing a decision on annulment of elections, which the Law does not dene for cases like this. Namely, the BiH Election Law sets forth that the BiH CEC can annul elections when irregularities that might affect election results happened during the voting or the vote count. The Election Law also does not precisely set a deadline in which the decision on annulment of election has to be passed.

In the repeated procedure, the BiH CEC had at its session on December 14 reiterated earlier imposed sanctions against political subjects, providing additional explanations and evidence that certain candidates and political subjects were responsible for obstruction and disturbance of electoral process in Stolac and for the use of language which could provoke or incite someone to violence or spread of hatred. Sanctions imposed were removal of the names from the candidates' lists and pecuniary nes for Salmir Kaplan, Demir Mahmutćehajić, and Ahmet Ljubović of the political subject Initiative for Stolac and Božo Raguž and political subject Croatian Coalition for Stolac HSP BiH – HDZ 1990. 

On 5 February 2017, the Central Election Commission (CEC) of Bosnia and Herzegovina adopted a decision to call the election in the municipality of Stolac. Repeated election in this municipality was held on 19 February 2017. Coalition's observers monitored election in Stolac from the opening of polling stations until the counting of ballots at all 20 polling stations. There were no complaints or objections to the findings, nor were any irregularities that could have an impact on the election results for the Mayor and the Municipal Council.

The repeated election in the municipality of Stolac was conducted free and fair, with one incident and several minor irregularities. Voter turnout in the election was above average for the elections in Bosnia and Herzegovina, amounting to 75.57%.


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