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Montenegro's parliament has voted to cut short its current mandate, setting the stage for early elections likely to be held in October.
The parliament's session was shortened at the initiative of the ruling coalition, which wanted a fresh mandate for the country's EU accession talks. Montenegro started membership talks with the EU at the end of June.
The motion was supported by a vote of 47-27, with the ruling Democratic Party of Socialists, DPS, the Social Democratic Party, SDP, and the Bosniak Party voting in favor.
Montenegro's president, Filip Vujanovic, is now free to call early elections, which are now expected to be held in October. Regular elections were scheduled for spring 2013.
Vujanovic said earlier that if the parliament cut short its mandate, he would consult with all party leaders before choosing a date for the elections.
MPs from the ruling coalition said that as the country is entering tough EU accession negotiations, it is necessary for the government and parliament to hold a fresh four-year mandate.
Opposition lawmakers, meanwhile, said they rejected the motion because they feel the country lacks the necessary conditions for free and democratic elections.
The DPS previously announced that it had reached agreement, in principle, with the SDP to form a new coalition following the elections. If they win, which is likely, the two parties would then continue the ruling coalition they have maintained for the past 14 years.
The EU opened accession negotiations with Montenegro on Friday - the start of which are being marked in the country with the issue of commemorative stamps and a celebratory cocktail party.
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