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Guardian.co.uk: Montenegro's Ruling Coalition Wins Vote

Published date: 13.09.2006 18:42 | Author: Kliping inostranih medija

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PODGORICA, Montenegro (AP) - The governing pro-Western coalition led by Prime Minister Milo Djukanovic won last weekend's parliamentary elections, Montenegro's election authorities said Tuesday.

The ruling two-party coalition secured 41 out of 81 seats Sunday in the tiny republic's parliament, the State Election Commission said. The majority, though slim, means Djukanovic - who earlier this year led the Balkan state to independence from Serbia - can remain in power.

Two opposition pro-Serbian blocs together won 23 seats, while a fourth party, the center-right Movement for Change, got 11 seats, according to the official count.

The remaining six parliamentary seats went to several smaller parties, the commission said.

The vote was key to Montenegro's hopes of joining the European Union and NATO, as the new parliament will be charged with drafting and passing a new national constitution.

Montenegro declared independence from Serbia in June, after its citizens voted for the split by a slim margin, marking the final breakup of what was once Yugoslavia.

Foreign monitors from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe have said the vote was mostly in line with international standards.

A day before the election, however, police arrested an alleged ethnic Albanian terrorist group that authorities said had threatened the ballot.

Twelve ethnic Albanians were rounded up in a village close to the border with Albania, including two U.S. citizens and two U.S. residents.

Leaders of the ethnic Albanians in Montenegro said the arrests represented a political provocation, as most of the suspects were either party supporters or candidates.

Montenegro's move to independence was a return to sovereignty that the tiny country had in the 19th century. It was recognized in 1878 as a monarchy, but after World War I it merged with Serbia and other Slav-populated parts of the former Austro-Hungarian Empire to form what later became Yugoslavia.

After World War II, communists took over the country, which unraveled along ethnic lines in the 1990s. Four republics seceded amid a series of wars, while only Serbia and Montenegro stayed together.

By PREDRAG MILIC