Anti-Russian Milo Djukanovic favourite to win Montenegro election

Djurica

Djurica

Podgorica. The people of Montenegro began voting Sunday in polls expected to see pro-Western former prime minister Milo Djukanovic elected as president of the tiny Balkan nation that is aspiring to join the EU, AFP reported.Having dominated politics in the former Yugoslav republic for almost 25 years, Djukanovic stepped down as prime minister in October 2016.

The historic leader of Montenegro, Milo Djukanovic, seeks Sunday the presidency of this small Balkan candidate country to the European Union, less than two years after announcing his withdrawal from power.

The Monitoring Center (CeMI) says that Djukanovic has secured a victory winning 53.8% of the vote, Bojanic has garnered 33.6%, Vuksanovic has 8.1% and Milacic has 2.9%.

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.

"Just as we said, we have received 54% of the vote in the first round of the election and left the other six candidates behind", Djukanovic said at his election headquarters.

Previously served as prime minister and once as a president, 56-year-old Djukanovic is returning to active politics after a brief break.

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

The country has also been marred by organized crime, with about 20 people killed by assassinations or auto bombs over the last two years.

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

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".

"I agree with Djukanovic that the state is stronger than the mafia".

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

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.

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 progress report told the country it should continue its efforts to reduce organised crime, especially human trafficking and money laundering.

The last turnout figures, one hour before the closing of the polls, was 58.5 percent, down from the 2016 elections.

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