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news 24 Jan 16

Anti-Govt Protesters Rally in Montenegro

Opposition supporters protested in Podgorica on Sunday against the government, ahead of the no-confidence vote against Prime Minister Djukanovic.

Dusica Tomovic
BIRN
Podgorica
Photo: FreedomCalling.me

Hundreds of protesters rallied in the streets of Podgorica carrying banners "He is done" and shouting "Milo thief!" in reference to Prime Minister Milo Djukanovic.

The rally was organised by Montenegro's main opposition alliance, the Democratic Front, against the cabinet and its key members before a key parliamentary confidence vote on Monday in the government.

The Front called  on opposition MPs to vote against Prime Minister Milo Djukanovic's cabinet, which it accuses of corruption, undemocratic practices and election fraud.

The right-wing alliance, composed mostly of pro-Serbian parties, on Monday will stage another rally at the same time as MPs start debating the motion against the government.

The alliance said if any opposition MP support the government on Monday, it would be a vote against democracy, vital state interests and against the will of the citizens.

The leader of the opposition Workers Party, Janko Vucinic, called on the crowd gathered in front of the parliament to vote for no-confidence motion against Djukanovic.

Green and red cards were handed out to the protesters so they can show their vote during the rally.

The leader of the pro-Serbian party NOVA, Andrija Mandic, said that Montenegro is being "run by several foreign embassies".

"Citizens of Montenegro have to change this situation. We do not need to be obedient followers," he said.

The opposition said  that if Djukanovic falls on Monday, the opposition will suspend its campaign of protests, launched last September, declare victory and invite other opposition parties to talks on forming a interim government.

Djukanovic called on parliament to take a vote of confidence in his government on December 19, 2015.

The veteran Prime Minister, who has been either president or premier since 1991, has accused the opposition of trying to block the country from joining NATO, also saying that Russia stands behind the protests.

"Questions have been raised as to whether this government enjoys the support of parliament," Djukanovic said in December.

"We waited to complete a task that in, our eyes, was of national interest," he said, referring to NATO's invitation to the tiny Adriatic nation of 650,000 to join the alliance in December.

Montenegro has a strong Serbian community, traditionally allied with Russia, which bitterly opposes the alliance's eastward expansion.

In recent months, the opposition has called for Djukanovic's resignation while riot police in the capital, Podgorica, have clashed with protesters demanding elections.

Djukanovic's cabinet meanwhile lost its majority in parliament after his own Democratic Party of Socialists, DPS, clashed with its junior partner, the Social Democratic Party, SDP

The SDP has already said it will not not vote in favour of the Prime Minister. Djukanovic now therefore needs a new ally among the sharply-divided opposition if he wants to re-gain a majority.

If he does not secure such support in parliament, he will have to call early general elections but would stay in his post until a new government is formed.

An election is planned for autumn 2016, but the exact date has not yet been agreed.

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