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BALKANS >Pro-West Montenegro ruling party wins, but falls short of single-party government

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Montenegro’s pro-West ruling party has won the most votes in the small Balkan country’s parliamentary election on Oct. 16, according to unofficial results, but without enough support to govern alone and assure the country’s chartered course into NATO and other Western institutions.

The tense election was marked by the arrest of 20 people suspected of planning politically motivated armed attacks after the polls closed in the vote during which Prime Minister Milo Djukanovic faced the toughest challenge yet to his quarter-century rule.

The independent CeMI election monitoring group said that with 100 percent of the vote counted, the Democratic Party of Socialists won 41 percent, while two opposition parties - the Democratic Front and the Key Coalition have - 20 and 11 percent respectively, The Associated Press reported. The monitoring group used its own vote count at the polling stations.

Both the ruling party and the opposition claimed they have enough seats to form the country’s future government. They will have tough time to form post-electoral coalitions with small groups that enter the 81-seat parliament. 

The coalition negotiations are feared to spark political instability in the country of 620,000 people.

The outcome of those negotiations will determine whether the state continues on its Western course or turns back to traditional ally Russia.

Tensions were already running high over Djukanovic’s plans to forge closer ties with the EU and NATO and were further inflamed after the dramatic arrest of the 20 Serbs.

Police Director Slavko Stojanovic said those arrested on the night of Oct. 15 came from Serbia and planned to collect automatic weapons to attack state institutions, police and possibly state officials after the vote.
Serbia’s former special forces commander, Bratislav Dikic, who was removed from the post in 2013 because of his alleged criminal activities, was among those arrested.

Stojanovic said they were charged of “forming a criminal organization and terrorism.” He said one Serbian is still on the run.

The prosecutor’s office said the group planned to attack people who gather in front of the parliament when the vote results are proclaimed, then storm the building in the capital and declare the victory “of certain parties” in the election. The statement said they also planned to arrest Djukanovic.

The pro-Russian opposition branded the arrests as propaganda, while Serbian Prime Minister Aleksander Vucic said he “personally did not believe” in the plot.

“I would like to see and hear serious information that he [Dikic] was planning terrorist acts,” Vucic said, according to the Tanjug news agency.

“It’s a strange day on which all this is happening, that is all I will say,” Vucic said.

Vucic had previously questioned the timing of the alleged plot.

“I find it curious that this is happening today, and that’s all I’ll say... As for the rest, it would be better for me to bite my tongue.” 

Djukanovic, 54, is the only Balkan leader to have held onto power since the collapse of Yugoslavia began in the early 1990s, serving several times as prime minister and once as president in the country.

October/18/2016

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