“Unprecedented public and media pressure on BiH Finance Minister Vjekoslav Bevanda has culminated with an open call to violate the law. Such attempts can be described as an act of undermining the rule or law,” the HDZ BiH said in a statement on Tuesday amid an avalanche of criticism over its attempt to block the implementation of 2 October general elections.
The BiH government on Tuesday held a conference call at which a proposal was made to finance the elections with slightly less than €6.5 million from budget reserves accumulated over previous years.
This fallback option was proposed by the Central Election Commission (SIP) because the budget for 2022, which was to have envisaged funds for elections, has not been adopted yet.
Its budget has been obstructed for a year and a half by Bosnian Serb officials, but Serb and Bosniak government ministers were on Tuesday willing to support SIP’s proposal.
The BiH Finance Ministry, however, described the proposal as unconstitutional, and the three HDZ BiH ministers on the government voted against.
Under the Council of Ministers rules of procedure, the government cannot make any decision unless at least one minister from all three constituent peoples votes for it.
Shortly after yesterday’s government session, Bevanda issued a statement explaining that elections can be financed without the budget but not the way it had been proposed.
“Law and lawful conduct were evidently not a priority in proposing this decision,” said Bevanda, who was fully supported by his HDZ BiH party.
Nevertheless, the HDZ BiH has suddenly found itself isolated because in addition to criticism of its ministers, almost all major Bosniak and Serb parties called for ensuring money for the elections, noting that their blockade must not be allowed.
The Bosniak Party of Democratic Action (SDA) was the most vocal in its criticism, saying the HDZ BiH is doing everything possible to prevent the October election because it is dissatisfied with the failure to reach agreement on changes to the election law.
The SDA called for prosecuting those responsible for blockades and urged the international community to intervene and impose a decision to ensure funds for the elections.
The US Embassy said in a Twitter post that the HDZ BiH’s blocking election financing is irresponsible and unjustified.
It also noted that HDZ deputies in the state parliament were against the adoption of EU-required laws, which it said was contrary to their professed commitment to Euro-Atlantic integration.
Under the current election law, 19 May is the deadline by which the Council of Ministers must secure funds for the implementation of elections, and Prime Minister Zoran Tegeltija said after the failed vote that an attempt was made to do it in a way that was not in line with the law.
“I call on all those in charge to continue with preparations for the implementation of elections in October 2022 and by the time SIP needs the money for elections, it will have it,” said Tegeltija.
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