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Montenegro's long-serving leader returns to premiership

Published date: 29.02.2008 13:40 | Author: Kliping inostranih medija

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PODGORICA, Montenegro: Montenegro's long-serving leader, Milo Djukanovic, returned Friday for another term as prime minister after his predecessor resigned due to illness.
Djukanovic has said he will retain the 16-member Cabinet inherited from outgoing premier Zeljko Sturanovic and that Montenegro's integration into the EU and NATO will continue to be the government's priority.
A formal parliamentary vote is scheduled later in the day.
Djukanovic's and Sturanovic's Democratic Party of Socialists triumphed in last September's elections, securing a continued hold on power within a coalition Cabinet that includes other pro-EU parties.
Djukanovic, 46, had led Montenegro as either president or prime minister for a decade before stepping down after steering the nation to independence in 2006.
Sturanovic, who became the first post-independence prime minister, was diagnosed with a rare form of lung cancer last year. He said the treatment required him to quit the premiership.
Analysts link Djukanovic's comeback with the government's intentions to speed up privatization and attract new foreign investors to the tiny Adriatic country with a booming economy.
The nation of 650,000 people, gained independence after the breakup of its troubled union with Serbia. The two were the last remnant of the former, six-state Yugoslav federation to remain united after that nation disintegrated in 1991-92.
Since then, Montenegro has prospered despite the predictions of many observers that the tiny nation was not economically viable. Annual economic growth is nearly 7 percent and foreign direct investment is one of the highest in Europe on a per capita basis.
But the pro-Serb opposition has accused the government of doing little to combat corruption or organized crime.
Djukanovic told parliament his government would focus on reducing unemployment which hovers around 12 percent through investment in infrastructure projects, particularly roads and energy plants.