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politics 14 Oct 15

Montenegro Opposition Splits Over Parliament Boycott

A proposal to walk out of parliament in protest at alleged electoral fraud, put forward by the main opposition alliance, the Democratic Front, was rejected by Montenegro's other opposition parties.

Dusica Tomovic
Leaders of the Democratic Front urged the opposition to walkout of parliament | Photo: Democratic Front.

Opposition parties failed to agree on whether they should jointly start a boycott of parliament on Wednesday, after their proposed electoral reform amendments aimed at ensuring free and fair polls were not adopted.

The plan to boycott parliament over alleged electoral fraud and the allegedly poor state of democracy in the country was proposed by the strongest opposition alliance, the Democratic Front, but other opposition parties decided not to back the move.

The Democratic Front on Monday urged the rest of the opposition to unite to put pressure on the government and form a transitional administration.

Before announcing the boycott, the Front launched 24-hour protests in Podgorica on September 27, demanding the resignation of Prime Minister Milo Djukanovic and the holding of what it said should be Montenegro’s first ever free and fair elections.

One of its leaders, Andrija Mandic, said a boycott was essential.

"Any opposition MP who shows up at the parliament session is not opposition," he said.

Parliament is supposed to discuss the formation of a joint committee for monitoring the implementation of the country’s new electoral law, which the majority of the opposition sharply criticised because they claimed that it would not provide for a fair vote in elections which are planned for spring 2016.

The Democratic Front has refused to participate in the work of the committee because parliament in July did not adopted its amendments for deleting voters who do not live in Montenegro from the electoral roll.

On the agenda of the autumn session of parliament is also a proposal for granting the status of an independent municipality to the town of Tuzi, which has a majority Albanian population. 

The opposition DEMOS party, led by former Montenegrin diplomat Miodrag Lekic, said on Tuesday said it would make its own decision whether to continue working in parliament or not.

DEMOS said it would not take part in any activities in which the "governing majority's voting machines" undermine democratic practices in parliament.

"On the other hand, we will participate where it comes to protecting the interests of citizens," the party said in a statement.

The opposition Positive party said it would not support the idea of a boycott, while several independent MPs announced that will attend meetings of some parliamentary bodies on Wednesday which are to debate a set of economic measures.

The Democratic front also walked out of parliament for three months in February 2014 after the the ruling Democratic Party of Socialists voted against six EU-backed election laws aimed at curbing abuses in the electoral process.

The laws mainly addressed suspected irregularities in voter lists and abuses in the use of budgetary funds for party purposes during elections. 

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