FaithWorld

Bosnia holds first census since 1992-94 war, reviving ethnic and religious splits

October 3, 2013

(Surveyors look at maps before interviews during Bosnia’s first census in Srebrenica, October 1, 2013. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic)

Bosnia has launched its first census as an independent state , a politically charged event that has revived ethnic and religious rifts and could shake the delicate power-sharing system that helped end the country’s 1992-95 war.

The 15-day survey, the first in 22 years, should give the most detailed snapshot yet of the enduring upheaval of the war, in which some 100,000 people were killed and 2 million were driven from their homes.

The results will provide data vital for efficient economic planning and for Bosnia’s ambition to join the European Union.

But preparations have been marred by tension between leaders of Bosnia’s former warring sides – Serbs, Croats and Bosniaks (Bosnian Muslims) – who each fear being weakened in the system of ethnic quotas set by the 1995 Dayton peace accord.

The Dayton deal created an unwieldy form of government which stopped the war but which has stifled development.

The last census was in 1991, on the eve of Yugoslavia’s collapse, when 43.5 percent of Bosnia’s then 4.4 million people declared themselves as Muslims, 31.2 percent as Serbs and 17.4 percent as Croats.

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