Long-serving Montenegro president seeks reelection

Mar 19, 2023 | blog

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PODGORICA, Montenegro (AP) — Voters in Montenegro are casting ballots Sunday in a presidential election marked by political turmoil and uncertainty over whether or not the small NATO member state within the Balkans will unblock its bid to affix the European Union or as an alternative search to enhance ties with Serbia and Russia.

Analysts predict that the primary spherical of Montenegro’s presidential election won’t produce a transparent winner and that incumbent Milo Djukanovic, 61, will face considered one of a number of challengers in a runoff vote in two weeks. Though the presidency is essentially ceremonial in Montenegro, the poll is seen as a key indicator of fashionable sentiment forward of a parliamentary election set for June 11.

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“I don’t plan to lose this election and it can be expected that I lead my party at the parliamentary vote,” Djukanovic stated after casting his poll. “I believe there will be a runoff … and that we will have a fair duel. I am convinced of my superiority.”

Djukanovic’s opponents embrace a frontrunner of the staunchly pro-Serbia and pro-Russia Popular Front celebration, Andrija Mandic, economist Jakov Milatovic of the newly shaped Europe Now group and former parliament speaker Aleksa Becic.

Observers say Milatovic, who served within the authorities elected after the 2020 parliamentary vote however later cut up from the ruling coalition, could stand the very best likelihood of constructing it into the runoff towards Djukanovic.

Milatovic stated after he case his poll that Djukanovic symbolizes “divisive policies of the past,” and that the vote is essential for a future Montenegro that shall be “richer, more just, more beautiful and more equal.”

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Mandic stated Djukanovic’s removing from the presidency is the final step towards a full change of energy.

Djukanovic and his Democratic Party of Socialists led Montenegro to independence from Serbia in 2006, and defied Russia to affix NATO in 2017. An alliance dominated by events looking for nearer ties with Serbia and Russia ousted DPS from energy in 2020.

The new ruling alliance, nevertheless, quickly plunged into disarray, which stalled Montenegro’s path towards the EU and created a political impasse. The newest authorities fell in a no-confidence vote in August however has remained in workplace for months due to the stalemate.

Djukanovic — who has served a number of instances as each president and prime minister prior to now 30 years — has seen his recognition plummet. He now hopes to regain belief amongst Montenegro’s roughly 540,000 eligible voters and assist pave the best way for his celebration’s return to energy.

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Djukanovic has portrayed the presidential election as a alternative between an impartial Montenegro and a rustic managed by neighboring Serbia and Russia.

“Only a few years ago, no one could imagine that we would once again wage a decisive battle for the survival of Montenegro,” he informed supporters. “Unfortunately, with the change of power two and a half years ago, the horizon of European values has been irresponsibly closed.”

The political chaos and stalled reforms in a rustic lengthy seen as the following in line for European Union membership has alarmed U.S. and EU officers, who concern Russia might attempt to stir hassle within the Balkans to divert consideration from the conflict in Ukraine.

Montenegro’s 620,000 residents stay deeply divided between supporters of Djukanovic’s insurance policies and people who view themselves as Serbs and wish Montenegro to ally itself with Serbia and fellow-Slavic Russia.

The Popular Front celebration’s Mandic, who was accused of being a part of a Russia-orchestrated 2016 coup try, has sought to current himself as a conciliatory determine through the marketing campaign, saying his most important purpose as president can be to bridge the Montenegrin divide.

Milatovic, the economist, has accused Djukanovic and his celebration of corruption, saying the president’s last removing from energy is critical for Montenegro to maneuver ahead.


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