Mostar, Bosnia-Herzegovina (AP) – Polls opened Sunday for the first local election in more than a decade in the southern Bosnian city of Mostar, a city renowned for its local Ottoman architecture and its deep ethnic divisions.
The split between the Muslim Bosniaks and the Catholic Croats, who fought fiercely for control of the city during the country’s 1992–95 war, did not lead to local elections in 2008, when Bosnia’s constitutional court ruled its election rules to be discriminatory Declared and ordered that they be changed.
The major nationalist Bosinak and Croatia’s political parties, the SDA and the HDZ, have spent more than a decade respectively not agreeing on how to do this. During that time, the city of over 100,000 people has seen its infrastructure crumble, with garbage repeatedly gathering on its streets and thousands of its citizens leaving for good in search of a better life abroad.
An agreement between the two sides in support of top EU and US diplomats in Bosnia was finally reached in June. He came eight months after Irma Baralija, a local teacher, won the European Human Rights Court by being sued for failing to contest Mostar’s elections in Bosnia. She is now running for a local council seat as a candidate from a small, non-nationalist party.
Along with the two major parties, which hope to retain the power they have had over the past 12 years, many smaller, multi-ethnic parties were dying for city council seats on Sunday. The election is expected to close at 7 pm (1800 GMT) and the first partial results will come overnight.
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