Pushing Too Hard?

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SARAJEVO: As the September 14 date for nationwide elections in Bosnia draws near, U.S. and European leaders are nearly unanimous in their resolve to stick to the provisions of the Dayton Peace Accords, but the International Crisis Group, an independent think-tank, is urging a delay. ICG held press conferences Wednesday in London and Sarajevo to argue that the collapse of any semblance of democracy in Bosnia threatens to cement the ethnic division that sparked the war in the first place. The group's opinion carries significant weight, as its chairman is highly-regarded former Senate majority leader George Mitchell, now President Clinton's adviser for Northern Ireland. "In all parts of Bosnia, there is no freedom of expression, no free press, little or no voter education, and indicted war criminals remain at large," reports TIME's Alexandra Stiglmayer from Sarajevo. "Some opposition parties, notably one led by Bosnia's staunchly multi-ethnic wartime prime minister Haris Silajdzic, say they will boycott the elections unless specific remedies to these problems are enacted." ICG's announcement comes one day before Secretary of State Warren Christopher visits Sarajevo to voice the Clinton Administration's support for holding the vote on schedule. A delay of the national election would also push back the withdrawal of American troops in Bosnia. To Clinton and Christopher, the integrity of the entire Dayton Accord is at stake, and the U.S. has worked to ensure that other provisions are observed. Clinton himself pushed hard for a resolution of a Croatian boycott of the Mostar city council, who wanted the election declared improper after Muslims candidates won a majority. A temporary agreement was achieved, but the Mostar compromise, still faces a real possibility of failure. -->