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news 06 Oct 16

Montenegro Minister Refuses to Sign Electoral Roll

Two weeks to go before parliamentary elections in Montenegro, the Interior Minister has refused to authorise the electoral roll, which will place a question mark over the election's legitimacy.

Dusica Tomovic
BIRN
Podgorica
Photo: Wikimedia/Rama.

After the deadline for signing the electoral roll expired on Wednesday at midnight, the Interior Minister’s refusal to approve it has cast doubt on the legality of the October 16 general elections.

Minister Goran Danilovic said on Wednesday that he would not sign the electoral roll because it has not been cleansed of fake voters and deceased citizens.

Danilovic, who comes from the ranks of the opposition, claimed the ministry had faced "the joint resistance of individuals willing to work at their own expense only to make the master happy", presumably referring to the Prime Minister, Milo Djukanovic.

"I'm signing everything that we [the opposition] have done so far...  but other people's mess, I won't," Danilovic said.

Deputy Prime Minister Markovic, a senior official in Djukanovic’s ruling Democratic Party of Socialists, DPS, on Wednesday said Danilovic is obliged to sign the list of voters because the country's election law does not provide any option for him not to.

However, in response, Danilovic said that, if that was true, "Markovic should sign it; he has been lecturing me on what I should do or not do these days anway". 

The Interior Ministry is responsible for maintaining a database of citizens who have the right to vote, which is then compared to the data of the State Election Commission in order to get a unified electoral roll.

The Election Commission did not comment on Wednesday on the likely legal consequences of Danilovic's action and whether it posed a question mark over the elections.

For years, the government has been accused of refusing to clean up the register, which reportedly contained thousands of duplicate voters or the names of people who had died.

Opposition parties and civil society groups have claimed that the list of voters is as a tool for the ruling DPS to commit election fraud.

Earlier on Wednesday, civil society groups and the opposition called on Danilovic not to sign the electoral roll, saying that if he did, it would be recognition of election misuse.

The Network for Affirmation of the Non-Governmental Sector, MANS said the voting rights of about 170,000 of the total of 590,000 citizens were questionable.

MANS said the authorities had changed the polling stations for 120,000 voters since the last elections in 2012 and that several thousand deceased persons were still on the list.

It also said its research showed that another 40,000 names were 'suspicious', as these voters do not live in Montenegro.

The same organization revealed that the electoral roll contained the names of at least 3,621 people over 40 who had been registered to vote for the first time this year, including that of an 111-year-old woman.

The pro-Russian opposition alliance, the Democratic Front, also urged Danilovic not to approve the electoral roll, saying that according to its own data, at least 80,000 voters on the list were fake.

In the elections on October 16, 17 coalitions and parties are fighting for the 81 seats in parliament.

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