Election results point to political deadlock after parties split along ethnic lines

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Partial results from Bosnia's election pointed to political deadlock with leaders and parties split along ethnic lines. Muslims supported parties favouring a united Bosnia, Serbs backed nationalists urging secession, and Croats voted for parties seeking their own entity within Bosnia, according to more than 70 per cent of votes for the national parliament.

The results, if confirmed, would make it very hard to form a national coalition and begin reforms needed for EU membership, political analysts and diplomats said. "We will have no government yet this year," said international peace overseer Valentin Inzko, adding he did not expect a government to be formed before February 2011. "This is normal here," he added. "Since 1995, the formation of new governments always lasted between four and five months."

Since the last election in 2006, mistrust has deepened between Croat, Serb and Muslim leaders, and political divisions have widened between the country's two regions, the Muslim-Croat federation and the Serb Republic. Voters in the Serb Republic backed the Serb nationalist Alliance of Independent Social Democrats (SNSD), while the Muslim-Croat federation voted for the multi-ethnic Social Democratic Party (SDP).

"Any possibility of cooperating with the SDP at the Bosnia-Herzegovina (national) level is excluded," Bosnian Serb leader Milorad Dodik, whose SNSD party campaigned on threats of secession, said on Sunday.