CEOL - Bosnian Moslem ruling party behind vote fraud

SARAJEVO, Dec 29, 1999 -- (Reuters) SARAJEVO, Dec 28 (Reuters) - An international agency said on Tuesday the Bosnian Moslem ruling party had been behind the fraudulent voter registration for the April 2000 local election of thousands of Bosnians living abroad.

The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) said it had discovered a "high probability of fraud" involving some 13,000 voter applications that had arrived from the Bosnian consulate in New York in the United States.

It said that numerous applications contained the same handwriting style to fill out the applications, the same color of ink, and a similarity in the purported hand-written signatures of the applicants.

Some of the applications contained false or inconsistent information, or applications had been submitted on behalf of applicants who were already registered.

The OSCE said in a statement that evidence showed the Moslem ruling Party of Democratic Action (SDA) was the only one to gain by this manipulation.

"Thus, it is reasonable to infer that the perpetrators are supporters of SDA," it said and added that OSCE holds the SDA "accountable" in this case.

In the effect, OSCE said it would remove "no more than 15 candidates from the candidates lists of the SDA" in the April 2000 municipal election, after the SDA lists had been submitted and finalized.

SDA and the Bosnian branch of the Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ) share power in the Moslem-Croat federation, which together with the Serb republic makes up post-war Bosnia.

According to the OSCE investigation into the voter registration abroad, more irregularities have been found in connection with Bosnian embassies and consulates abroad.

For example, OSCE had discovered that nearly 7,000 fraudulent applications had been processed through the Bosnian embassies or consulates in Germany and Belgium.

It said most fraudulent applications were on behalf of Bosnian Moslem refugees allegedly living in the United States.

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