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aKI: Montenegro: Official Results Confirm Independence

Published date: 31.05.2006 21:14 | Author: Kliping inostranih medija

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Podgorica, 31 May (AKI) - Montenegro's referendum commission confirmed on Wednesday the official results for the country's 21 May plebiscite on independence from Serbia. According to final official results, a total 230,661 out of 419,240 Montenegrins who cast valid ballots - or 55.5 percent of the turnout - backed independence. The final results surpassed the 55 percent target majority set by the European Union for recognition of the result, Commission head Frantisek Lipka of Slovakia said.The result clears the way for the tiny republic to end its current state union with Serbia and declare independence - something political observers were quoted as saying could happen as soon as Saturday, completing the break-up of the former Yugoslav federation, a process that began in 1991.

Montenegro's opposition, which supported the continuation of the state union with Serbia, lodged over 240 complaints, claiming election irregularities, but these were all rejected by the commission. The commission contained an equal number of separatists and unionists and Lipka has frequently used what was called his golden vote to break the deadlock.

The unionists could have appealed to the Constitutional court, but turned down this last resort, saying the court was a lackey of prime minister Milo Djukanovic, whom they accuse of skulduggery. "The results of the referendum are the consequence of brutal pressure, blackmail, vote-buying and media manipulation," said Ivanko Antovic, spokesperson for the opposition Peoples Party of Montenegro.

Some parties of the unionist bloc said they will not recognise the referendum and intend to boycott the parliament when independence is declared. Such a move would leave Montenegro's 620,000 inhabitants deeply divided on the issue.

Lipka and EU representative at the referendum, Slovak diplomat Miroslav Lajcak, have said that the vote was free and fair and blamed the unionists for irresponsible behavior in refusing to recognise the results.

International monitors confirmed the plebiscite was fair and respected international standards.