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Persistence in Bosnia

Municipal elections in Bosnia have been postponed again, reflecting the deep problems that hinder normal political processes in that land.

A major sticking point, not surprisingly, is Bosnian-Serb determination to hold tight to the cities, towns, and villages seized during the war. Many of these were formerly inhabited by Muslims, who were forced out during the fighting. Election procedures set up by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe would allow refugees to return to their home areas to vote. Hence Serb worries about a Muslim "comeback" at the polls.

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Beyond that, the difficulties of transporting people to polls located in their former homes remain unresolved. It became clear that a date in November, as first rescheduled, would not have allowed nearly enough time to sort out differences and clear the way for municipal balloting. The new date will probably be next spring, after the hard Balkan winter.

Thus the international community has yet another reason to keep some forces posted in Bosnia to preserve order - including, presumably, some fresh US troops. That's the price of building a credible peace in Bosnia. And it may be much lower than the cost of pulling out prematurely and inviting renewed war.

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