Sunday, October 3, 2010
Voters in Bosnia and Herzegovina today appear to have elected three presidents with different ideas about country unity. With about three-quarters of votes counted, the likely Croat and Muslim presidents favor continued unity, while the likely Serb president has advocated separation. The BBC reports here.
Any division between the likely three presidents on the question of national unity could impair the country's efforts to join the EU and NATO.
The unusual three-member presidency is established and empowered by Article V of the Constitution of Bosnia and Herzegovina:
The Presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina shall consist of three Members: one Bosniac and one Croat, each directly elected from the territory of the Federation, and one Serb directly elected from the territory of the Republika Srpska.
The presidents' authority extends primarily to foreign affairs, but they're also empowered to "execute decisions of the Parliamentary Assembly." Article V provides for a presidential Chair, selected from among the three in a manner determined by the Parliamentary Assembly. (The Assembly currently provides for a rotating Chair.) Article V admonishes them to make decisions by consensus, but it also contains an elaborate procedure for resolving conflict:
A dissenting Member of the Presidency may declare a Presidency Decision to be destructive of a vital interest of the Entity from the territory from which he was elected, provided that he does so within three days of its adoption. Such a Decision shall be referred immediately to the National Assembly of the Republika Srpska, if the declaration was made by the Member from that territory; to the Bosniac Delegates of the House of Peoples of the Federation, if the Declaration was made by the Bosniac Member; or to the Croat Delegates of that body, if the declaration was made by the Croat Member. If the declaration is confirmed by a two-thirds vote of those persons within ten days of the referral, the challenged Presidency Decision shall not take effect.