Bosnian Putin ally’s political future in doubt as vote recount ordered

Bosnian Putin ally’s political future in doubt as vote recount ordered
Bosnian Serb leader Milorad Dodik is a strong supporter of Russian President Vladimir Putin, who endorsed his candidacy ahead of the October elections in Bosnia. / SNSD
By Denitsa Koseva in Sofia October 10, 2022

Bosnia & Herzegovina’s central election body, the CIK, has ordered a recount of votes in the election for president of Republika Srpska after reports of mass fraud with ballots and protests by the opposition, it said in a statement on October 10.

The first results from the central election body showed Milorad Dodik, the leader of the long-ruling Alliance of Independent Social Democrats (SNSD), and an ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin, had taken the presidency in the Bosnian Serb entity. 

This was despite the opposition PDP initially claiming its candidate for president of Republika Srpska, Jelena Trivic, had won. The party’s claim was based on parallel vote counting by the party.

According to the PDP and its coalition partners, the SDS and the List for Justice and Order, there was evidence of electoral fraud in the entity's presidential election.

Trivic’s supporters held two large rallies last week to demand a new vote for Republika Srpska's president and support her refusal to concede defeat. They claim that at least 65,000 votes were compromised.

On October 10, the CIK ordered all ballots cast for president of Republika Srpska to be shipped to the central vote counting centre in the capital Sarajevo to be recounted.

“We have heard about cases of voter intimidation, vote buying, ballot stuffing, improperly sealed ballot boxes, of poll workers intentionally altering the vote tallies and numerous other procedural problems,” election commission member Irena Hadziabdic said as quoted by Associated Press.

Dodik claimed that the CIK’s decision was illegal and accused the international community of putting pressure on the election committee.

Bosnia is divided into two autonomous entities – the Muslim-Croat Federation and Republika Srpska. Each of them has its own president, government and parliament and there are also state-level institutions.

Dodik was previously the Serb member of the tripartite state-level presidency. That position has now been taken by his colleague Zeljka Cvijanovic, who was previously president of Republika Srpska.