Srebrenica (Bosnia and Herzegovina): The Bosnian town of Srebrenica, known for the wartime massacre of 8,000 Muslims by Serb forces, looked set to get its first Serb mayor in 17 years after elections.
A Muslim war criminal was also poised to become mayor in the northwestern town of Velika Kladusa following the poll, which came at a time of renewed tensions in the fragile country.
Based on a preliminary vote count in Srebrenica, 34-year-old Mladen Grujicic declared victory over his Muslim opponent on Sunday and said people had shown "they want changes".
If confirmed, Grujicic's victory would make him the town's first Serb leader since 1999, although his rival and the incumbent mayor Camil Durakovic said it was too soon to declare with postal votes not yet counted.
Srebrenica is a microcosm of Bosnia, with Muslims and Serbs living side by side but by no means together —
still distrustful more than two decades after Bosnia's 1992-1995 war, which claimed 100,000 lives and displaced two million people.
Grujicic assured that the town hall would continue to help commemorate 11 July, 1995 — the date of Europe's worst massacre since World War II.
In the mass slaughter — deemed genocide by two international courts — Bosnian Serb forces carried out the executions of thousands of Muslim men and boys, despite the enclave being under UN protection.
"I want us to turn the page in Srebrenica, to have a new life, to look ahead, to develop Srebrenica in all areas, to ensure that people stay here, regardless of their faith or ethnicity," said Grujicic.
In the northwestern town of Velika Kladusa, the position of mayor was expected to go to war criminal Fikret Abdic, 77, who was convicted by a Croatian court in 2002.
During Bosnia's war, the Muslim warlord sided with the Serbs against Muslim forces loyal to Sarajevo and proclaimed an "Autonomous Province of Western Bosnia".
He was released in 2012 after serving two-thirds of a 15-year jail sentence.
First Published On : Oct 3, 2016 11:00 IST