SARAJEVO, Oct 10 — Bosnia’s election commission (CIK) ordered today a recount of votes for president of its autonomous Serb region after a bloc of opposition parties filed complaints alleging the ballot was rigged by Serb separatist leader Milorad Dodik.

The Balkan country held presidential and parliamentary elections on Oct. 2, including the presidential vote in the Serb Republic entity in which the main contenders were Dodik, the outgoing Serb member on Bosnia’s tripartite presidency, and opposition candidate Jelena Trivic, an economy professor.

On election night, Trivic, of the Party of Democratic Progress (PDP), declared victory based on the preliminary ballot count from a number of polling stations.

But the next morning Dodik took the lead, which has been confirmed by CIK with 98% of votes counted.

The three opposition parties that supported Trivic held protests drawing thousands of supporters in the region’s main city of Banja Luka and requested a recount of ballots, citing irregularities.

At an emergency session today, CIK ordered the opening of bags and recount of ballots for the presidential race from all polling stations in the Serb Republic and the neutral Brcko district at the central counting point in the capital Sarajevo.

“We have got material evidence and video material from which there is no doubt that the process was contaminated up to a level that election results are not possible to get,” CIK President Suad Arnautovic said.

Arnautovic said the CIK decision will come into effect immediately.

Dodik, who earlier today declared victory of his SNSD party at all levels of governance as well as his own in the presidential race, told the Serb Republic TV that the CIK decision was “politically motivated” and violated the law.

PDP President Branislav Borenovic said the CIK ruling was “the first important step towards the fight for the truth”. — Reuters