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Montenegro votes for next president; favorite is pro-West

16 April 2018

Montenegro's former Prime Minister and former President Milo Djukanovic, the leader of the ruling Democratic Party of Socialists, has claimed to have won the Sunday presidential election and pledged to ensure the country's European Union membership before the end of his five-year presidential term.

"I will continue to fight to free Montenegro of Djukanovic and his dictatorship", Bojanic said.

Djukanovic who has served as the prime minister of Montenegro for six terms, and one term as president, told a press conference Sunday night at his party headquarters that "another valuable victory was achieved for the benefit of the European future of Montenegro".

After the initial projections, party officials described the vote as a "great victory, a historic victory".

The Center for Monitoring and Research said Sunday after counting over 60 percent of the votes that Djukanovic won about 53 percent while his main opponent Mladen Bojanic won 34 percent. For the first time in the staunchly conservative nation, a female candidate also ran for the presidency, winning 8 percent of the vote. The pro-European leader defied Russian Federation past year by taking the Balkan State into North Atlantic Treaty Organisation.

The fractured opposition parties supporting Bojanic include the pro-Russian Democratic Front, whose two main leaders are on trial for taking part in the alleged 2016 coup attempt.

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After counting almost 90 percent of the ballots, the independent Center for Monitoring and Research say Djukanovic won about 53 percent of the vote while his main opponent, Mladen Bojanic, won 33 percent.

The vote, the first since Montenegro joined the Western military alliance in December, was seen as a test for Djukanovic, who favors European integration over closer ties to traditional ally Moscow.

He said that the fact that such large percent of voters opted for him is a strong confirmation that Montenegro should continue along the path towards the EU.

Djukanovic is set to replace incumbent President Filip Vujanovic, whose mandate expires in May.

About 530,000 voters can choose among several candidates. Djukanovic challenger will be Mladen Bojanic, backed by resistance groups, for example types that are pro-Russian.

According to some reports, this included a Russian plan to assassinate Mr Djukanovic.

Montenegro votes for next president; favorite is pro-West