Bosnia Vote Takes Place Under NATO Boot

By Maurice Williams, The Militant, Vol.60 no.35, 7 October 1996

U.S. secretary of state Warren Christopher touted the recent elections in Bosnia—organized and supervised by the 60,000-strong NATO occupying army—as “a major victory for the democratic process.” But a more ominous picture is being painted by others in the capitalist news media. “The prospects for creating a new state out of the ruins,” writes Bruce Clark and Laura Silber in London's Financial Times, “have hardly been improved.”

The head of the newly elected three-member presidency, Alija Izetbegovic, a Muslim, “is said by close advisers to be ready for a new war” if freedom of movement is not established for Muslims throughout Bosnia, asserted the Times article in the daily's September 21 issue.

“U. S. pressure was the main factor in ensuring the first part of Bosnia's complex electoral process went ahead on September 14,” the article stated, adding that “a huge military effort” will be needed to carry out the municipal elections that were postponed until November.

The New York Times reported the “complete but still unofficial” results of the elections with Izetbegovic getting 724,199 votes. Momcilo Krajisnik, the speaker of the Bosnian Serb parliament won 690,373 votes. And Kresimir Zubak, the president of the so-called Muslim-Croat federation, took 294,300 of the ballots cast. NATO armored personnel carriers escorted people to many areas to vote and were stationed around voting booths.

The elections were organized as part of implementing the Dayton agreement. The accord, which was patched together by Washington last December and rammed down the throats of the signers from Yugoslavia, mandates that Izetbegovic, the candidate who received the most votes, will assume the chair of Bosnia's three-member presidency.

The other two presidents-elect, Zubak and Krajisnik, met in Pale September 19 “in what foreshadows an ultranationalist alliance against Bosnia's Muslims,” said an article in the September 20 Washington Post. At a news conference held that day in Pale, Krajisnik, a chauvinist Serb leader, opposed any notion that would “integrate” the Republika Srpska, the Bosnian Serb entity, with the remainder of the republic. “Our people wished for a union with Serbia and that wish remains,” he stated.

Opponents of Krajisnik's Serbian Democratic Party (SDS), however, “have done surprisingly well in Bosnia's elections,” according to the New York Times. “It's about time that the beasts who made us kill our own people learned that we did not like it,” said a young veteran of the Bosnian Serb army. Recently, thousands of these ex-soldiers and others have been streaming at showings of Pretty Village, Pretty Flame, a film that portrays atrocities committed by pro-Belgrade Serb forces in Bosnia. The movie is being shown in Banja Luka, in territory under the control of the Serbian Democratic Party.

Krajisnik and Zubak have conferred several times in the past year. Zubak, a representative of the Croatian Democratic Union, vowed during his campaign to unite the Croatians in Bosnia with the regime in Zagreb.

Throughout the war, Bosnian Croat officials, with approval of Zagreb, provided fuel and weapons to chauvinist Serb forces against the Bosnian army. Belgrade sent military supplies to Croatian forces in Bosnia in their efforts to carve out more territory in Bosnia. According to the Washington Post, “relations soured” between Belgrade and Zagreb “when the Croatian army swept through Serb-held territory in Croatia last year and plunged deep into western Bosnia as well.”

NATO secretary-general Javier Solana announced September 19 that the U.S.-led occupation force will stay in Yugoslavia beyond December 20, the date the Dayton accord requires withdrawal. “I believe the international community, including NATO, must remain engaged in Bosnia beyond this first year,” he said. The Times reported September 11 that NATO officials had begun drafting plans to prolong the stay of the 60,000 troops, which includes some 20,000 U.S. GIs.

In other developments, Richard Goldstone, the chief prosecutor of the so-called “International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia” left the position September 18, citing the failure of the NATO force to arrest chauvinist Serb leaders Radovan Karadzic and Ratko Mladic. The imperialist- crafted tribunal indicted Mladic and Karadzic for war crimes.

Meanwhile, the government of Germany announced September 19 that it will begin deporting 320,000 Bosnian refugees October 1. There are also another 120,000 refugees from Yugoslavia in Germany who are mostly of Albanian origin.