Karadzic ban lifted amid security fear

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The head of the OSCE mission to Bosnia said yesterday he had overruled a decision by his officials to disqualify the main Serb nationalist party from a local poll because it used indicted war criminal Radovan Karadzic in its campaign, citing the safety of his own staff.

Robert Frowick said he had overruled a decision by an Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe sub-commission to disqualify the Serb Democratic Party (SDS) in the Pale district near Sarajevo, one of dozens contested in weekend municipal elections throughout Bosnia.

Mr Frowick said he had acted out of concern for the security of international supervisors in the Serb entity, believing that the mainly "symbolic" ban could hinder the implementation of election results and would not significantly reduce Mr Karadzic's influence.

On Monday the OSCE's Election Appeals Sub-Commission (EASC), its judicial arm, moved to strike out the SDS in Pale, saying the party had flouted a ban on political activity by indicted war criminals under the Dayton treaty.

The commission said messages from Mr Karadzic were read out and posters of him stuck up at SDS rallies.

The EASC's ruling said "the SDS must be sanctioned severely if the integrity of the election is to be maintained. For a person indicted for genocide and crimes against humanity to maintain a position or function in one of the leading national parties shocks the conscience".