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Aide to War Crimes Suspect Radovan Karadzic Claims Victory in Bosnian Elections; Official

November 24, 1997

Aide to War Crimes Suspect Radovan Karadzic Claims Victory in Bosnian Elections; Official Results Are Not Yet AvailableBy KATARINA KRATOVAC

PALE, Bosnia-Herzegovina (AP) _ An aide to Bosnian leader Radovan Karadzic today claimed Karadzic’s supporters scored victories in parliamentary elections that opponents had hoped would reduce the wartime leader’s influence.

A news agency loyal to Karadzic, who wields immense power even though he is wanted on war crimes charges, also said the Serb Democratic Party, dominated by Karadzic supporters, won most towns in the two-day election.

The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, which organized the elections for the Bosnian Serb parliament, acknowledged that all ballots except absentee votes, which represent 12 percent of the total, had been counted. However, Luke Zahner, an OSCE spokesman said ``it is simply too early″ to announce winners.

But Momcilo Krajisnik, the Serb member of Bosnia’s three-man presidency and a Karadzic lieutenant, said the Serb Democratic Party was ``the absolute winner in most of the towns″ of the Serb substate.

The SRNA news agency said the pro-Karadzic party won in Pale, Doboj, Visegrad, Zvornik, Brcko, and Prnjavor. Other Serb media also said the party had won the elections in a half-dozen other towns and said the ultranationalist Radicals _ potential coalition allies of the pro-Karadzic party _ most often came in second.

The Serb National Alliance, loyal to Bosnian Serb President Biljana Plavsic, was trailing in third place, the media reports said. The alliance apparently won in Banja Luka, Plavsic’s headquarters.

Two days of balloting for 83 parliamentary seats in the 49 percent of Bosnia that Serbs control ended Sunday. Final results are not expected until about Dec. 10.

There was no trouble reported between Serb factions, and non-Serbs registered to vote in Serb territory were bused in without incident, international officials said.

The pro-Karadzic faction accuses Plavsic of betraying the Serb cause of independence from Bosnia’s Muslims and Croats, and international support for Plavsic apparently has failed to widen her support among Bosnian Serbs, many of whom see her as controlled by the West.

Plavsic has cooperated much more closely with international officials trying to ensure peace in Bosnia and pull its two halves _ the Serb republic and the Muslim-Croat federation _ back together.

Plavsic dissolved Parliament in July to dislodge Karadzic backers.

It was unclear how any party could build an effective majority in parliament.

The pro-Karadzic Serb Democratic Party, which commanded an absolute majority in the last Parliament, will probably receive support from the Radical Party, while Plavsic likely will be backed by the Socialists.

Those four parties were likely to split most of the vote _ increasing the importance of minor parties and the non-Serbs.

Even if one side can cobble together a majority, negotiations will likely be lengthy, with no guarantees that the losing side will accept the results.

That could push the two halves of Bosnian Serb territory further apart, with the western part under Plavsic getting more international assistance and the eastern half becoming more isolated.

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