Two entities in Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) are trying to win over voters before the October general elections in BiH by paying one-time aid to the Brcko District, a separate administrative unit in the north of the country, election observers warn.
In Brcko District, money is currently being paid out to young people aged 16 to 29 who receive 50 euros each from the Government of the Republika Srpska (RS) only on the basis that they have the citizenship of that entity in which such aid is distributed for “improving the financial position of young people.”
Young people in Brcko who have the citizenship of the second entity, the Federation of BiH (FBiH), do not receive this assistance.
Also, the Government of the RS pays 50 euros each to pensioners in the Brcko District, and to demobilized fighters of the RS Army, as well, if they have citizenship of that entity.
At the same time, the Government of the FBiH announced an aid of 50 euros for pensioners, demobilized fighters of the Army of the Republic of BiH (ARBiH), and civilian victims of war who have citizenship of that entity, including those who live in the Brcko District. As reasons for the announced aid payment in the FBiH Government, they cited inflation and the rise in consumer prices.
Entity citizenship is a condition for voting
Residents of Brcko District must also have entity citizenship entered into their identity card because that is the only way they can vote in the general elections in BiH.
In 2012, the Parliament of BiH passed amendments to the Law on the Identity Card of Citizens of BiH. The novelty in the law is that citizens in the entities have the right to enter entity citizenship as information in their identity card in addition to the state of BiH.
And the citizens who did not take entity citizenship?
According to data from the Central Election Commission of BiH (CEC BiH), about 16% or more than 14.000 citizens in Brcko did not declare which entity citizenship they wanted. The deadline for making a statement expires in mid-August, otherwise, they lose the right to vote in the general elections in BiH on October 2nd.
Enes Pasalic, a former deputy in the District Assembly, is one of the groups of citizens who did not declare his entity citizenship. He says that the problem is that the law “forces” residents in Brcko to opt for entity citizenship.
”I think that this is a violation of the Final Arbitration Decision since there is no border in Brcko that divides the District into entities, but the border has been abolished and we are a separate territory. When someone is born here, you cannot assign entity citizenship to them, because it is not known which entity they belong to. Both entities have ownership. According to the Final Arbitration Decision, we were given the option, we can take entity citizenship, but we don’t have to,” Pasalic stated, RSE reports.