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The first preliminary results in Bosnia-Herzegovina’s general election showed cooperation-prone Bosniak candidate Denis Becirovic on course to win a seat in the country’s tripartite presidency.

Becirovic, a candidate of the united Bosniak opposition front, will likely be joined in the tripartite presidency by Bosnian Croat representative Borjana Kristo, the candidate of the Croatian Democratic Union of Bosnia, and Bosnian Serb Zeljka Cvijanovic from the Alliance of Independent Social Democrats.

Balloting on October 2 was held to choose the three members of the shared presidency, parliament deputies at the state, entity, and regional levels, and the president of the country’s Serb-run part. More than 60,000 observers were accredited to oversee the process.

The preliminary results were based on 1,816 processed polling stations or 54.83 percent of the total.

WATCH: Early voters came to polling stations in the Balkan state of Bosnia-Herzegovina in the morning of October 2 to choose the three members of the Bosnian presidency, parliament deputies at the state, entity, and regional levels, and the president of the country’s Serb-run part.

Voter turnout was 50 percent — more than 2 percentage points down from the 2018 general election.

The elections were expected to bring little change to the leadership of a country racked by clientelism, corruption, and poverty.

Officials said the voting had proceeded in a satisfactory manner despite reports of irregularities and the detention of some people over ballot fraud.

Voting at one polling station was suspended and five officials detained after independent monitors reported irregularities with ballots, news portal Klix had reported earlier.

After polls closed, Bosnia’s international peace overseer announced he had imposed changes to the election law aimed at preventing blockades of the government.

“I imposed measures that will improve the functionality of the institutions in the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina. They will enable all citizens to have their voices heard and ensure that they are truly represented by those they elected,” said Christian Schmidt, who has vast powers as international high representative in Bosnia.

“It is crucial for destiny of this country that there will be no blockades,” Schmidt added.

Bosnia-Herzegovina’s 3.4 million registered voters were given a choice from a huge slate of more than 100 parties and coalitions in the country’s eighth general election, but the beleaguered Balkan state’s postelection landscape will almost certainly be dominated by many of the same personalities that have thrived on existential crisis and patronage for years and even amplified their ethnic vitriol in campaigning.

It also took place amid Russia’s war in Ukraine, which has further divided Bosnia and stoked fears of raising the temperature on long-simmering issues in the Balkan state.

Bosnia remains divided into a Bosniak and Croat federation and the mostly Serb entity of Republika Srpska under the terms of the 1995 Dayton Agreements that ended three years of war in the former Yugoslav republic marked by ethnic cleansing and brutality.

A handful of races in the upper house of the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina — whose seats are chosen indirectly, after the elections — could dramatically affect obstruction efforts that have paralyzed the government for years. The results could go a long way toward answering whether Bosnia is fated, at least for the near future, to remain one of Europe’s most vulnerable hotspots.

Much of the attention was also expected to focus on Bosnia’s Serb-run part, Republika Srpska, and its leader, Milorad Dodik, who has pushed for an acceleration of the Serb-dominated region’s secessionist efforts.

Dodik chose to run for the president of Republika Srpska rather than seek a second term in the tripartite presidency.

Both Dodik, and his main contender, Jelena Trivic, proclaimed victory in the race for the Republika Srpska presidency.

Their claims will be tested later on October 3, when the election commission is expected to announce preliminary results of the presidential ballot for Republika Srpska and the races for parliament deputies at the state, entity, and regional levels.

Dodik has maintained close ties with neighboring Serbia and with Russia for diplomatic and other support to resist Bosnia’s federal structure and international pressure.

The United States announced sanctions against Dodik in 2017 and again in January over his secessionist efforts.

With reporting by Reuters

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