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U.S. Department Of State
96/09/13 Statement: Bosnia and Herzegovina Prepare to Vote
Office of the Spokesman


Press Statement By Nicholas Burns, Spokesman
September 13, 1996 


            BOSNIA AND HERZEGOVINA PREPARES TO VOTE

Tomorrow the people of Bosnia and Herzegovina will vote for a
unified national government for the first time since their
country achieved independence.  They will also elect regional
legislatures and the Presidency of Republika Srpska.  The
international community, led by the Organization of Security
and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), and the parties have worked
tirelessly since last winter to organize this election, which
has been called among the most complex in history.  

The preparations for the elections are complete:  28,000
candidates from 48 parties are running; the OSCE has printed
millions of ballots and updated thousands of voter rolls; 130
Local Election Commissions have set up over 4,600 polling
stations;  and IFOR has delivered 25 million ballot papers to
the voting places.

IFOR, the International Police Task Force, and the parties
have coordinated a comprehensive security plan which provides
for 19 designated voter routes across the former front lines;
all other crossing points will be available to voters as well. 
The IPTF has worked closely with local law enforcement
authorities to prepare for election day, distributing over
100,000 copies of the security guidelines to local police. 
IFOR will work with the IPTF and local police to maintain a
visible presence near polling places and in potential "hot
spots."  IFOR and the OSCE have also created a conflict
resolution group to attempt to defuse potentially dangerous
confrontations.

The Provisional Election Commission will meet in continual
session on election day to monitor voter turn-out, access to
the polls and assess the need to extend voting hours.  IFOR has
also set up an extensive and closely coordinated operations
center--which will allow them to address situations if they
arise.  The Interior Ministers of Republika Srpska and the
Federation will be present at the IFOR operations center to
maintain direct contact with IFOR on police and security
matters.  

The vote in Bosnia is truly a global undertaking:  in all,
nearly 3 million Bosnians are eligible to vote, including
refugees in 55 countries, who have already cast their ballots. 
In Bosnia 1,200 international supervisors and more than 1,000
more monitors will observe the vote.  The United States has sent
approximately 100 supervisors and observers from the NGO
community in addition to the official presidential delegation
led by former Assistant Secretary of State Richard Holbrooke. 
The OSCE has established sound procedures for securing the
ballots and ensuring an accurate vote count.

This massive effort by the international community does not
diminish the responsibility of the people of Bosnia and
Herzegovina to determine the future of their country.  The
people of Bosnia have responded enthusiastically to this
opportunity.  Tens of thousands of persons are expected to be
underway in exercise of their right to vote in their original
homes, despite the dislocations of war and ethnic cleansing. 
The United States is committed to building a lasting, democratic
peace in a unified Bosnia and Herzegovina.  We expect all
signatories of the Dayton Agreement to honor their obligations
to support this goal.  
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