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Bosnian Serb leader Milorad Dodik appeared on the path to an electoral win, preliminary results showed Monday, following a chaotic election night that saw his upstart rival also claim victory in a fiercely contested race.
Hours earlier, the long-time leader of Bosnia's Serbs looked poised to suffer a stunning defeat after his opponent Jelena Trivic claimed victory in the race for the presidency of the Republika Srpska (RS) -- the country's Serb entity.
According to Bosnia's election commission, Dodik had secured 49 percent of the vote compared to Trivic's 42 percent, with 82 percent of the entity's polling sites tallied.
"The latest results confirm our big victory," Dodik's SNSD party tweeted on Monday.
The tight race was just one in a dizzying number of contests in Bosnia on Sunday, with several upsets, and the sprawling results are likely to add fresh uncertainty in the restive political scene.
Nearly three decades after war ravaged the Balkan country, Bosnia continues to be burdened by its ethnic divisions.
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The Balkan state has been governed by a dysfunctional administrative system created by the 1995 Dayton Agreement that succeeded in ending the conflict in the 1990s, but largely failed in providing a framework for the country's political development.
Bosnia remains partitioned between a Serb entity and a Muslim-Croat federation connected by a weak central government.
In the war's wake, ethnic political parties have long exploited the country's divisions in a bid to maintain power.
For years, Dodik has been stoking tensions with his frequent calls for Bosnia's Serbs to separate even further from the country's central institutions, earning him fresh sanctions from the United States in January.
Dodik is seeking his third term as the president of the RS, after completing a stint in the tripartite presidency.
Trivic -- a 39-year-old professor of economics -- sought to offer an alternative by running on an anti-corruption ticket, while also loudly trumpeting the Serbs' desire to maintain their autonomy in Bosnia.
The fight over the RS presidency was not the only surprise of the evening.
The race for the Muslim Bosniak seat in the country's tripartite presidency saw another professor, Denis Becirovic, clobber two-time president Bakir Izetbegovic in a landslide victory.
The double-digit win was a stinging rebuke to Izetbegovic, who has been a major figure in post-war Bosnia's political scene.
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