Published: Mon, April 16, 2018
Worldwide | By Gretchen Simon

Polls close in Montenegro presidential election

Polls close in Montenegro presidential election

Montenegro's ruling party leader Milo Djukanovic swept a presidential election on Sunday, preliminary results showed, and he pledged to keep the small Balkan country firmly on a European path after it joined North Atlantic Treaty Organisation previous year in defiance of Russian Federation.

Djukanovic and his ruling Democratic Party of Socialists (DPS) led Montenegro into North Atlantic Treaty Organisation past year and have pledged to complete talks for European Union membership.

The Monitoring Center (CeMI) says that Djukanovic has secured a victory winning 53.8% of the vote, Bojanic has garnered 33.6%, Vuksanovic has 8.1% and Milacic has 2.9%.

Milo Djukanovic, the candidate for Montenegro's ruling Democratic Party of Socialists (DPS), has returned from self-imposed retirement to clinch a landslide win in presidential elections.

Djukanovic, the nation's dominating politician, along with his own Democratic Party of Socialists have ruled Montenegro for nearly 30 years. Current President Filip Vujanovic did not run due to term limits.

The former prime minister and his DPS have ruled the country for almost 30 years.

Mr Bojanic said Mr Djukanovic "cannot be the solution because he is the creator of the instability and chaos that we witness in the streets of Montenegro".

About 530,000 voters were choosing among several candidates in the Adriatic Sea nation that used to be part of Yugoslavia.

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Mr Djukanovic has been accused by the opposition of being linked to the mafia, which he denies.

On Sunday Bojanic said he voted to "put an end to the reign of an autocrat who wants to turn Montenegro into a dictatorship".

The issue of organised crime has cast a shadow on the campaign, with some 20 people killed by assassination or auto bombs over the last two years. "But the problem is that I do not know which side he is on", he added.

But he toned down the anti-Russian rhetoric, saying he wanted "normal relations with Russia if it is prepared to do the same".

Low salaries and unemployment at above 20% means the debate over the West versus Russian Federation is not the main concern of many Montenegrins.

The last turnout figures, one hour before the closing of the polls, was 58.5 percent, down from the 2016 elections.

Montenegro appears to have elected a president vying to develop closer ties with the West, according to initial projections.

While Sunday's presidential election was less tense, CEMI and another monitoring group, CDT, reported numerous irregularities at dozens of polling stations.

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