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Most Bosnians plan to vote, few expect change

Bosnians

September 11, 1996
Web posted at: 7:00 p.m. EDT (2300 GMT)

SARAJEVO, Bosnia-Herzegovina (CNN) -- As Bosnia's first post-war elections approach, critics charge that basic minimum conditions are not in place for a fair and democratic vote.

Nonetheless, a survey conducted by the U.S. Information Agency shows that the people of Bosnia want to get on with elections even though they are skeptical that things will immediately change.

Peace has changed the face of Bosnia. Sarajevo has emerged from modern history's longest siege into summertime picnics and outdoor cafes, scenes unthinkable during the war.

These days the pounding in the streets comes from artisans, not artillery, and people like Hasan, a demobilized soldier, decorate and sell spent shell casings.
(53 sec/981K QuickTime movie of the artisans)movie icon



Hasan

With peace I worry less that my family or friends could be killed. The most important thing is that there's no more death.

-- Hasan

"With peace I worry less that my family or friends could be killed," Hasan said. "The most important thing is that there's no more death."

A few tourists are breathing life back into shops and streets of Sarajevo's historic old town.

Murat and other vendors feel the change.

"Of course everything is better," he said. "There are more people in town, more work, more business more everything."

And with elections just days away, there's also more politics. Party posters are plastered all over Bosnia's two entities, the Muslim-Croat Federation and the Serb Republic.

According to a survey by the U.S. Information Agency (USIA), more than 95 percent of Serbs Croats and Muslims believe the elections are important and say they will vote.

Most say they believe they will be able to cast their ballots without fear or intimidation. Most also say they will vote for the ruling nationalist parties now in power.

While almost all those asked say they will vote on Saturday, the survey shows each ethnic group growing further apart in its vision of the country's future.

A majority of Serbs and Croats support a partitioned Bosnia, while for the Muslims, the reverse is true.

Posters

The Dayton accords are meant to allow the reunification of Bosnia.

According to the USIA survey, 97 percent of Muslims believe that can and must happen but say it will take time.

"Economy and trade will connect everyone and Bosnia will be unified I'm sure," said one Bosnian man.

But a majority of their federation partners, 67 percent, oppose unification.

Over in the Serb entity, a majority remain as committed as ever to a separate state and their hard-line leaders.

"The Serb Republic must join Serbia, and I think Karadzic should come back, because the people support him," another Bosnian man said.

Some 97 percent of Serbs believe the elections will lead to a three-way partition of Bosnia.

"We expect after the elections we'll have our own state," said Mirko, a Bosnian Serb.



Bojana

I want to be the way it was to be all together in one country because that life was nice. Now we all hate each other, and that's wrong. That's a very big mistake for everyone.

-- Bojana

But Mirko's daughter Bojana disagrees. She's too young to vote but old enough to have an opinion.

"I want to be the way it was to be all together in one country because that life was nice," she said. "Now we all hate each other, and that's wrong. That's a very big mistake for everyone."

It will probably take Bojana's generation -- Muslim, Serb and Croat -- to correct that mistake if they can. They all say that no matter what the people want, in the end, it is the politicians who will decide.

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