A Dangerous Trend

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SARAJEVO: Citing widespread abuse of rules and regulations, the international group charged with implementing the Dayton Agreement abruptly cancelled municipal elections across Bosnia Tuesday, a day before they were set to take place. U.S. diplomat Robert Frowick said that attempts by nationalist parties, particularly the Bosnian Serbs, to solidify ethnic divisions by forcing refugees to vote in particular areas, was the deciding factor in calling off the vote. Election laws say that voters can register to vote where they are now, where they lived before the war began in 1991, or where they would like to live. But giving Bosnia's people the choice has also left them open to intimidation. Frowick did not explain how postponing the municipal elections until April or May would ameliorate the intimidations or the other problems with the severely distorted vote. That the elections were called off only weeks before a scheduled nation-wide vote September 14 only served to heighten questions about the viability of the Dayton Accords. "The cancellation is a recognition that the Dayton accords are a diplomatic game which may not have anything to do with a peaceful multi-ethnic settlement in Bosnia," says TIME's Marguerite Michaels. "The municipal elections were always going to be trouble, so the Dayton administrators ditched them. Keeping the national elections gives the international group a rotating presidency, a parliament and an excuse to pull out as soon as a withdrawal is feasible." Terence Nelan