August 5, 2021

Benjamina Karic, a breath of fresh air at Sarajevo town hall

Benjamina Karic makes a discreet entrance to Morica Han, the only caravanserai still existing in Sarajevo, where the Sarajevan filmmaker Danis Tanovic is shooting the final scene of his next film, Ten and a half, when a technician activates a fire hose to sprinkle the actors with artificial rain. Having escaped the watering, she chatted for an hour with the actors, the producers, appearing amazed by this first film shooting in the time of the coronavirus, while the health curfew has just been lifted in Sarajevo.

Benjamina Karic never wavers from the radiant smile that has accompanied her since her election to the post of Mayor of Sarajevo. It was April 8, her thirtieth birthday, making her the youngest mayor in the city’s history. “And only the second wife!” “, she adds. A third source of pride is to have been elected ” unanimously “, all political parties combined, from the twenty-six votes of the city council. The election of the young scholar, graduate in law and history, professor of law and recently engaged in politics, is however first of all the result of an unexpected renunciation.

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After the victory of an anti-nationalist movement – composed of the People and Justice parties (NiP, center right), Our Party (NS, social-liberal), the Social-Democratic Party (SDP, socialist) and independents – in the municipal elections November 2020, the leaders of this coalition called “The Four” announced the election (while the leaders of the four districts of the city are elected by direct universal suffrage, the mayor of Sarajevo is elected by indirect suffrage by the representatives of the political parties) of Bogic Bogicevic. The last representative of Bosnia and Herzegovina in the Yugoslav collegiate presidency in Belgrade in 1991 and although from the Serbian community, he said no to Serbian leader Slobodan Milosevic in a vote on the imposition of martial law . Then he moved to Sarajevo, where he lived during the war and the siege of the city (1992-1995), and where he remains extremely popular.

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For unclear reasons, Mr. Bogicevic feared, at the last minute, not to have a majority of the votes, and withdrew his candidacy. Its movement, the SDP, then proposed to the other members of the “Four” the candidacy of its young vice-president, Benjamina Karic, unknown to the Sarajéviens. This was not only accepted by the other municipal winners, but elected including with the votes of the defeated nationalist parties.

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