The second round of presidential elections in Montenegro is underway According to Reuters


© Reuters. A child plays with a ball in the street, the day before the second round of presidential elections in Podgorica, Montenegro, April 1, 2023. REUTERS/Marko Djurica


PODGORICA (Reuters) – The people of Montenegro went to the polls on Sunday in a second round presidential election between incumbent candidate Milo Djukanovic against a Western economist committed to pulling the nation out of a crisis described marked by votes of no confidence in the two governments.

Polling stations open at 7am (0500 GMT) and will close at 8pm (1800 GMT). The pollsters’ first unofficial results, based on a sample of voters, are expected about two hours later.

The Podgorica-based Center for Monitoring and Research (CEMI) said turnout was around 39% as of 1pm (1100GMT).

Djukanovic, 61, has dominated Montenegro as president or prime minister for 33 years since the start of the fall of the now-defunct Yugoslav federation. He led Montenegro to independence from the state union with the much larger Serbia in 2006 and became a NATO member in 2017. The country is also a candidate to join the European Union.

“I believe that a new and better time is beginning in which Montenegro will continue to move towards the European goals efficiently and steadily,” he told reporters after casting his vote at a school in St. Podgorica.

Opponents have long accused the former communist and his Democratic Socialist Party (DPS) of corruption, having ties to organized crime and running the tiny Adriatic republic as their fiefdom. – allegations they deny.

Djukanovic’s rival is Jakov Milatovic, 37, a Western-educated, former economy minister and vice-president of the Europe Now movement, committed to curbing corruption, improving living standards and increasing living standards. strengthen relations with the EU and the former Yugoslav republic of Serbia.

“I have full confidence that I will become the new president of the country, that … the citizens of Montenegro will bring the current president back to the political past,” Milatovic told reporters after the vote.


Djukanovic won 35.37% of the vote in the first round of elections on March 19, with Milatovic at 28.92%, forced to vote as neither of them won a 50% majority. Analysts had predicted a close race in the final stages.

Sunday’s vote comes after a year of political turmoil in which two governments were toppled by votes of no confidence. It was also marked by a dispute between lawmakers and Djukanovic over his refusal to appoint a new prime minister.

On March 16, Djukanovic dissolved parliament and scheduled snap elections for June 11. Although the presidency in Montenegro is largely ceremonial, winning the election would strengthen the odds. party for the winner’s party in June.

Montenegro, which relies heavily on tourism revenue along its stunning coastline, has a legacy of bitter divisions between those who identify as Montenegro and those who consider themselves Serbs and oppose independence. of the country.

The country joined NATO after a 2016 coup attempt that the Djukanovic government blamed on Russian agents and Serbian nationalists. Moscow dismisses such claims as absurd.

After Russia invaded Ukraine last year, Montenegro joined EU sanctions against Moscow and expelled several Russian diplomats. The Kremlin has put Montenegro on its list of unfriendly countries.


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