Montenegro’s pro-West prime minster Milo Djukanovic to step down

October 26, 2016 4:14 pm

’s Prime Minister speaks after casting his ballot in parliamentary elections at a polling station in the capital, Podgorica, October 16, 2016. (Photo by AFP)

Montenegro’s long-time, pro-West leader, Milo Djukanovic, will not continue as prime minster in the next government, his ruling Democratic Socialist party has said.
The party said late Tuesday that it had decided to propose the prime minister’s deputy and closest ally, Dusko Markovic, as the candidate to succeed him.
Markovic’s nomination for prime minister will have to be approved by a party committee later on Wednesday.
Djukanovic, who is set to remain party leader, has ruled as the small Balkan country’s prime minister or president for a total of 21 years since 1991.
The prime minster has been accused of cronyism, corruption and links to widespread organized crime by opposition parties.
Djukanovic steered the country toward closer ties with the West and close to membership in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and the European Union (EU).
His party announced its decision to replace Djukanovic hours after he accused Russia of having interfered in the country’s parliamentary elections, which were held on October 16.
He alleged that there was “a strong connection of a foreign factor” in the vote, during which authorities claimed they foiled a plot by a group of Serbs, who were planning to seize the prime minister and the parliament building and proclaim victory for the pro-Russia opposition.
Police arrested 20 people for allegedly planning to kidnap Djukanovic and plotting armed attacks on officials.

Montenegrins protest against a government bid to join NATO in a rally in Podgorica, December 12, 2015 (Photo by AFP)

Opposition parties, however, denied the allegations and accused Djukanovic of trying to scare people by suggesting that the country will fall into chaos if he loses.
The prime minister’s party won the vote, but failed to secure a majority to form a parliamentary coalition.
Djukanovic’s bid to join NATO and the EU also drew criticism from many opposition groups in the country.
Montenegro had been bombed by NATO during the 1999 Kosovo war.
Several anti-NATO protests have been held in Montenegro, urging the government to reject an accession invitation by the Western military bloc.
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