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news 13 Dec 17

Montenegro Opposition's Parliament Boycott Starts to Fray

After boycotting parliament for more than a year over allegations of election fraud, some opposition legislators have made clear that they intend to return to their seats next week.

Dusica Tomovic
BIRN
Podgorica
Photo: Montenegrin Parliament.

Montenegro’s largest opposition group, the Democratic Front, says it will return to parliament, a move which would end a collective opposition boycott that began after elections in October 2016, which government opponents claim were fraudulent.

The pro-Russian Democratic Front alliance said it could attend the parliament session on Wednesday, December 20, when premier Dusko Markovic is scheduled to be present for the so-called “prime minister’s hour“ and answer MPs’ questions. 

The Front’s move came after talks on Friday about the joint platform with other mostly leftist/civic opposition parties failed.

The other opposition groups rejected the Front’s call to unite and jointly organise protests to demand snap elections.

An earlier idea about the joint opposition candidate for the presidency in next spring’s election also now seems unlikely to be enacted as relations inside the opposition block are further burdened by two ongoing court cases against the Front’s leaders – the ‘coup’ trial and the money laundering case - from which the rest of the opposition is trying to distance itself.

The other opposition parties criticised the decision to return to the legislature and said they are ready to continue the parliamentary boycott until their demands are met.

One of the Front’s leaders, Andrija Mandic, said that that the alliance has realised that the boycott of parliament was not enough to force the ruling Democratic Party of Socialists, led by former PM Milo Djukanovic, to transfer power democratically.

“We will be there for the first next parliamentary session in full capacity. We proposed protests in combination with a boycott, because the boycott itself is not sufficient. Now we decided to take our fight to parliament,” he told a press conference.

The entire opposition bloc, which won 39 seats in the 81-seat parliament, has boycotted the national assembly since the DPS won the October 2016 elections, demanding new polls.

The opposition leaders want a new election to be held no later than spring 2018, when the presidential election is scheduled.

The DPS has urged them to return to parliament first and then to discuss a resolution of the crisis.

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