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Montenegro elects pro-West president Milo Djukanovic, projections show

16 April 2018

Milo Djukanovic, leader of the ruling Democratic Party of Socialists, DPS, and presidential candidate, is interviewed outside a polling station in Podgorica on April 15.

With almost all the votes counted, Djukanovic won about 53 percent while his main opponent, Mladen Bojanic, won 33 percent, according to preliminary results. None of the remaining six candidates reached double digits.

According to the preliminary results of the State Electoral Commission based on 54.8 percent of counted votes, Djukanovic won 55.57 votes at the presidential elections.

"After this overwhelming and superior result you should reconsider your political position", he said in a direct message to opposition leaders.

About 530,000 voters chose among several candidates in the Adriatic Sea nation that used to be part of Yugoslavia. "I see this result as a proof of Montenegro's determination to move forward along the European path".

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His presidential candidacy is supported by the ruling coalition partner Social Democrats, as well as Bosniak, Croat and Albanian minorities.

Having dominated politics as either prime minister or president of the former Yugoslav republic of about 620,000 people, Djukanovic stepped down as prime minister in 2016.

Mladen Bojanic was Djukanovic's main rival, having been put forward by the leading opposition party, the Democratic Front, which prefers closer ties to Russian Federation and accuses Djukanovic of both nepotism and corruption.

"I will win today", Djukanovic had said after voting.

The opposition says Djukanovic has ties to the mafia, an accusation he has denied.

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"Djukanovic is the new president of Montenegro. there will be no second round", DPS leader Milos Nikolic told journalists at party headquarters.

On Sunday Bojanic said he voted to "put an end to the reign of an autocrat who wants to turn Montenegro into a dictatorship".

Low salaries and unemployment at above 20% means the debate over the West versus Russian Federation is not the main concern of many Montenegrins.

But he has toned down the anti-Russian rhetoric, saying he wanted "normal relations with Russia if it is prepared to do the same".

The EU in its 2016 country progress report told Montenegro it should continue its efforts to reduce organised crime, in particular on human trafficking and money laundering, and also noted the problem of global cigarette smuggling through the port of Bar.

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No significant election irregularities had been reported.

Montenegro elects pro-West president Milo Djukanovic, projections show