Bosnia's Election Hurdles

Swiss Foreign Minister Flavio Cotti, chairman of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, had little choice but to give the go-ahead for Bosnian elections to be held Sept. 14. Arm-twisting by the United States and the European Union made it clear they would look askance at any decision to delay the Dayton timetable, even though many conditions for elections remain unfulfilled:

*The free movement of people and their right to return home. Of some 2 million refugees, only 10,000 have returned to their homes, mostly Muslims to areas under Croat control and vice versa. Bosnian Serb mobs have prevented buses of refugees with international escort from even visiting their former villages. The NATO-led IFOR peacekeeping force has done little to nothing to stop such actions, although its commander, Adm. Leighton Smith, stepped up diplomatic pressure on the Bosnian Serb leadership after 30 more Muslims were expelled from Banja Luka.

*Removal of Bosnian Serb "president" Radovan Karadzic from office. International mediator Carl Bildt of Sweden has handed Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic and the Bosnian Serbs a July 1 deadline for ousting Mr. Karadzic from any governmental functions. If they comply, however, Mr. Bildt must ensure that the move is not merely cosmetic, leaving Karadzic in real control behind the scenes.

*Arrest and trial of war criminals. Karadzic and his top general, Ratko Mladic, continue to roam at large despite their indictment on war-crimes charges by the international tribunal in The Hague. IFOR could arrest the two, but has demurred, citing "mission creep" and concerns about the casualties on both sides and the Bosnian Serb backlash such operations might entail. NATO appears to be waiting for President Milosevic to do the deed, or for some "moderate" Bosnian Serb leadership to take power and make the arrests. This last option has about as much hope of success as waiting for the Iraqi military to depose Saddam Hussein.

If justice is to be done, and a multiethnic Bosnia to have any possibility at survival, the UN will have to keep up serious pressure on Milosevic. And everyone should realize that some kind of NATO force - probably including US troops - will have to stay on after December.

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