Pro-Western Djukanovic set for victory in Montenegro presidential vote


Preliminary results of Sunday's presidential elections in Montenegro show Milo Djukanovic, the leader of the ruling Democratic Party of Socialists, DPS, has won another term as head of state after serving as Prime Minister six times and as President once.

When supported, the outcome will present a big raise for Djukanovic, that defied this past year, Russian Federation to carry his own country.

With 95 per cent of the ballots counted, exit polls suggest Djukanovic won 53.9 per cent of the votes, securing victory in the first round.

Djukanovic, who has previously served as president and prime minister, faced off several other candidates.

Opinion polls indicated he was such a strong favourite that he may be able to win more than half of the votes, which would rule out a run-off planned for April 29.

Supported by the main opposition parties, whether pro-Russian or not, he is credited with about a third of the vote.

Monitoring agencies have confirmed Djukanovic's election win.

Organised crime has cast a shadow over the campaign after 20 people were killed by assassinations in the street or vehicle bombs over the last two years.

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"I am convinced that we will not let citizens down and that in next five years we will be also able to make that step (towards full European Union membership)", Djukanovic said at the headquarters of DPS in front of several hundred supporters.

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".

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". "But the problem is that I do not know which side he is on", he added.

For Djukanovic, however, the choice between Brussels and Moscow is crucial to Montenegro's development.

But for the 620,000 people in Montenegro, their votes may have been swayed by what work prospects are offered by the candidates rather than ties to the West or Russian Federation.

Milo Djukanovic seems to moderate his rhetoric hostile to the Kremlin, saying he is ready to "establish normal relations with Russian Federation, if it is also ready to do so".

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. Local newspapers have already raised this week cases of presence on the electoral rolls of deceased persons.