Montenegro: Djukanovic claims presidential victory

Montenegro to elect new president on Sunday

Montenegro's Djukanovic Defies Balkan Political Instability With Ability To Change

He led Montenegro to the independence of Serbia in 2006 and North Atlantic Treaty Organisation membership, effective since previous year to the annoyance of Moscow but also a part of the Montenegrins, mostly Slavic and Orthodox. If neither presidential candidate gets 50 percent, a second round will be held on April 29.

Djukanovic, an ally of the West, has been six times prime minister and once president (1998-2003).

The veteran leader Milo Djukanovic has declared victory in the Montenegrin presidential polls amid reports of voting irregularities.

Elections by monitors from Montenegro's presidential elections have revealed that ruling-party leader Milo Djukanovic has swept the vote. Additionally, sceptics of Djukanovic resent him for prioritising pro-Western strategies, such as setting sights on joining the European Union, over social programme development that has left the country with a 20% unemployment rate and rising rates of organised crime. Djukanovic challenger will be Mladen Bojanic, backed by resistance groups, for example types that are pro-Russian.

Mladen Bojanic, a businessman backed by an alliance of parties, including some wanting closer ties with Russian Federation, is seen trailing Djukanovic, who has dominated politics either as prime minister or president of the Adriatic country of only 620,000 people, with 30 percent of the votes in opinion polls.

If Mr Djukanovic wins the presidency - now a ceremonial post - it is expected to become the real seat of power in the country of 620,000 people.

"There is the feeling that Russian Federation understands the limits of its influence without giving up in the long run", said analyst Zlatko Vujovic, director of the center for monitoring the vote, which will give Sunday evening the first results.

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Montenegro's last parliamentary vote in 2016 was marred by the arrest of a group of Serb nationalists who had allegedly plotted to assassinate Djukanovic and bring pro-Russian parties to power, to stop the country's accession to North Atlantic Treaty Organisation.

The former prime minister, who has also served one term as president, was able to count on the support of the Croatian, Albanian and Bosnian minorities, which make up 15 percent of the electorate.

In a country where unemployment exceeds 20%, Milo Djukanovic is committed to doubling the average salary, now 500 euros, in a few years.

Sunday, he will face the eternal accusations of electoral fraud.

The Montenegrins like to tell the joke of this man who asks another why he spends the day of voting in front of a polling station. "But your father has been dead for twenty years ..."

Sunday's vote passed off peacefully amid fears of disorder after 20 people were arrested and accused of trying to stage a coup during legislative elections in 2016.

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