Montenegro votes for next president; favorite is pro-West

16 April, 2018, 03:03 | Author: Cecil Buchanan
  • Montenegro votes for next president; favorite is pro-West

If confirmed, the result is an approbation for his move previous year to defy Moscow and take Montenegro into the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO).

Montenegro's former Prime Minister and former President Milo Djukanovic, the leader of the ruling Democratic Party of Socialists, has claimed to have won the Sunday presidential election and pledged to ensure the country's European Union membership before the end of his five-year presidential term.

The vote is the first since Montenegro joined the Western military alliance in December.

"Just as we said, we have received 54% of the vote in the first round of the election and left the other six candidates behind", Djukanovic said at his election headquarters.

Some 530,000 voters will choose among several candidates. He led Montenegro to independence from much larger Serbia in 2006 and later into North Atlantic Treaty Organisation.

Montenegro's presidency is a ceremonial post, but is expected to become the real seat of power in the country if 56-year-old Djukanovic is confirmed as the victor. "The time has come for us to complete the job we started 20 years ago".

Djukanovic challenger is Mladen Bojanic, supported by resistance bands, for example pro-Russian kinds.

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The fractured opposition parties supporting Bojanic include the pro-Russian Democratic Front, whose two main leaders are on trial for taking part in the alleged 2016 coup attempt.

Bojanic has vowed to "fight against everything my rival represents: corruption, violation of human rights, nepotism and all that is bad in this society".

Upon voting Sunday, Bojanic described Djukanovic as an "autocrat leading Montenegro into a dictatorship".

Analyst Sergej Sekulovic believes Djukanovic needs a triumph in the first round, and even a runoff vote would signal a possible shift in public opinion.

Djukanovic's election team earlier announced his victory.

He said that the fact that such large percent of voters opted for him is a strong confirmation that Montenegro should continue along the path towards the EU.

Djukanovic has pared back his anti-Russian rhetoric saying he wanted "normal relations with Russia if it is prepared to do the same", but he has also said he wants the country to "remain on its road of development", which would be better achieved through ties with Brussels. Moscow has denied involvement. Vuksanovic is trailing third in the polls with around 8 percent support.

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