Montenegro: Djukanovic claims presidential victory

Pro-EU Milo Djukanovic favourite to win Montenegro's presidential election

Pro-EU Milo Djukanovic favourite to win Montenegro's presidential election

Preliminary projections show six-time prime minister and onetime president Milo Djukanovic as the victor of Montenegro's presidential election.

The results were a major boost for Djukanovic, who defied Russian Federation to take his country into North Atlantic Treaty Organisation previous year.

The Center for Election Monitoring (CeMI) projected Djukanovic winning over 53 percent of the vote, which would give him an outright victory in Sunday's election.

Milos Nikolic, a spokesman for the ruling Democratic Party of Socialists, said: "Milo Djukanovic is the new president of Montenegro. this is a great victory, a historic victory".

The veteran leader Milo Djukanovic has declared victory in the Montenegrin presidential polls amid reports of voting irregularities. Current President Filip Vujanovic did not run due to term limits.

Previously served as prime minister and once as a president, 56-year-old Djukanovic is returning to active politics after a brief break.

Mr Bojanic said Mr Djukanovic "cannot be the solution because he is the creator of the instability and chaos that we witness in the streets of Montenegro".

About 530,000 voters were eligible to vote in the election.

The opposition accuses Djukanovic of being linked to the mafia, which he denies.

Montenegro's presidency is a ceremonial post, but is expected to become the real seat of power in the country if 56-year-old Djukanovic is confirmed as the victor. "Looking forward to years of cooperation in ensuring this future for our two peoples", Thaci wrote.

Challenger Bojanic, who was backed by several opposition groups, including pro-Russian ones, vowed to continue his struggle against Djukanovic, describing him as "the man holding Montenegro and its institutions hostage".

"I agree with Djukanovic that the state is stronger than the mafia".

He now plans to gain membership to the European Union.

Djukanovic has pared back his anti-Russian rhetoric saying he wanted "normal relations with Russia if it is prepared to do the same", but he has also said he wants the country to "remain on its road of development", which would be better achieved through ties with Brussels.

Low salaries and unemployment at above 20% means the debate over the West versus Russian Federation is not the main concern of many Montenegrins.

The EU in its 2016 country progress report told Montenegro it should continue its efforts to reduce organised crime, in particular on human trafficking and money laundering, and also noted the problem of worldwide cigarette smuggling through the port of Bar.

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