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news 26 Oct 16

Veteran Montenegro PM Milo Djukanovic ‘Will Quit’

Prime Minister Milo Djukanovic, who led Montenegro to independence and has just won his latest election, is to step down after almost three decades in power, his party said.

Dusica Tomovic
BIRN
Podgorica
Montenegrin PM Milo Djukanovic. Photo: gov.me

Djukanovic is set to end 27 years as Montenegro’s top politician after his Democratic Party of Socialists nominated his long-standing protégé, Dusko Markovic, as his potential successor on Tuesday evening, according to a statement from the party leadership. 

The move comes after the Democratic Party of Socialists scored yet another election victory on October 16 and follows months of intense speculation that Djukanovic was planning to step down. 

It also comes in the wake an alleged coup plot which Djukanovic claimed was organised by unnamed foreign powers to take over power in Montenegro. Suspects have been arrested in both Montenegro and Serbia.

The Democratic Party of Socialists said after a meeting of its leadership on Tuesday evening that it would nominate deputy prime minister Markovic for the premier’s role if the party secures a majority in parliament.

“The dynamic of post-election activities and negotiations with the natural coalition partners of the DPS has been determined, which should lead to the rapid formation of the new government,” the party's presidency said in a statement.

Markovic previously served as the head of the Montenegrin intelligence service and has been considered to be one of Djukanovic’s closest allies for 20 years.

Local media reported that Djukanovic will remain the head of his party, but more details will become known after a meeting of the DPS’s main board on Wednesday. 

At the elections on October 16, Djukanovic’s party won 36 seats in the 81-seat parliament. If minority parties which ran independently in this election choose to join him, his DPS will be able to again form a government.

Djukanovic, who is still only 54 years old, has been in power as premier or president since 1991, when he was just 29.

He served three consecutive terms as prime minister from 1991 to 1998 before becoming president of Montenegro from 1998 to 2002. 

This would be the third time he has left politics; he had two two-year breaks in 2006 and 2010, but even then he remained a powerful influence and was widely believed to be pulling strings from the backstage. 

Meanwhile, he remained head of the ruling DPS, a position he has held since 1998. He returned after the elections in October 2012 to the prime ministerial seat. 

In an interview with BIRN in September, Djukanovic hinted at a possible departure.

Asked whether he would say after the elections in Montenegro that there was still important work to be done and that he had to stay on, Djukanovic said there were plenty of other competent people in the country.

“I'm here to help in certain ongoing processes but as you know I’m not married to politics,” he said.

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