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Milo Djukanovic wins Montenegro presidential election

16 April 2018, 05:11 | Taylor George

Montenegro to elect new president on Sunday

Montenegro elections likely to mark closer relations with both Russia and the West

Montenegro's former prime minister and long-ruling Democratic Party of Socialists leader Milo Djukanovic speaks during a celebration after presidential elections in Montenegro's capital, Podgorica, on Sunday.

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.

With 80 per cent of ballots counted, the Center for Monitoring and Research said on Sunday that Djukanovic had won about 53 per cent of the vote, ahead of his main opponent Mladen Bojanic with 34 per cent.

Djukanovic's Democratic Party of Socialists (DPS) declared him the victor on Sunday evening.

"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. Current President Filip Vujanovic did not run due to term limits.

Djukanovic was prime minister during a tense October 2016 parliamentary election when authorities said they thwarted a pro-Russian coup attempt created to prevent the country from joining North Atlantic Treaty Organisation.

"I will win today", Djukanovic had said after voting.

The turnout was 64 per cent out of nearly 530,000 eligible voters in the small Adriatic country of some 650,000 people.

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The opposition says Djukanovic has ties to the mafia, an accusation he has denied.

Bojanic conceded defeat, saying: "Montenegro chose the way it chose".

Organised crime has cast a shadow over the campaign after 20 people were killed by assassinations in the street or auto bombs over the last two years. Djukanovic challenger will be Mladen Bojanic, backed by resistance groups, for example types that are pro-Russian.

Earlier in the campaign he accused Djukanovic of being "the creator of the instability and chaos that we witness in the streets of Montenegro".

Djukanovic has claimed the opposition want to turn the country into a "Russian province" and threaten Montenegro's multicultural way of life.

For Djukanovic, however, the choice between Brussels and Moscow is crucial to whether Montenegro will "remain on its road of development".

The EU in its 2016 progress report told the country it should continue its efforts to reduce organised crime, especially human trafficking and money laundering.

Biljana Popovic from the Centre for Democratic Transition, one of the NGOs monitoring the vote, said there were "a few irregularities that so far are not likely to affect the election".



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