Mon­tene­gro: Op­po­si­tion claims ma­jor ir­reg­u­lar­i­ties elec­tion vote

Malta Independent - - WORLD -

Mon­tene­gro’s op­po­si­tion claimed yes­ter­day that an in­con­clu­sive par­lia­men­tary elec­tion was packed with ir­reg­u­lar­i­ties, in­clud­ing the au­thor­i­ties’ block­ing of pop­u­lar mes­sag­ing ser­vices on vot­ing day.

Prime Min­is­ter Milo Djukanovic’s long-rul­ing party won the most votes in the Sun­day bal­lot, but without enough sup­port to govern alone. Both the op­po­si­tion and the Demo­cratic Party of So­cial­ists will now have to try form a gov­ern­ing coali­tion with sev­eral small groups rep­re­sented in the 81-seat par­lia­ment.

The out­come of the coali­tion ne­go­ti­a­tions will de­ter­mine whether the state con­tin­ues on its Western course or turns back to tra­di­tional ally Rus­sia.

The tense elec­tion was marked by the ar­rest of 20 peo­ple sus­pected of plan­ning po­lit­i­cally mo­ti­vated armed at­tacks against Djukanovic and his sup­port­ers. Op­po­si­tion lead­ers claim that thou­sands of their sup­port­ers were rounded up by the po­lice on elec­tion day.

The au­thor­i­ties blocked pop­u­lar mes­sag­ing ap­pli­ca­tions Viber and What­sApp for hours on Sun­day, say­ing “un­law­ful mar­ket­ing” was spread through the

mo­bile net­works on the elec­tion day.

“Block­ing such apps is un­think­able in any nor­mal coun­try. I have never heard of that hap­pen­ing any­where ever in an elec­tion,” said an op­po­si­tion party leader, Ranko Kri­vokapic, who has mon­i­tored elec­tions for the Or­ga­ni­za­tion for Se­cu­rity and Co­op­er­a­tion in Europe in the past.

Djukanovic, a former com­mu­nist turned pro-Western sup­porter, has ruled the small Balkan state for 27 years with a firm hand ei­ther as its pres­i­dent or prime min­is­ter. He was piv­otal in the coun­try’s split from much larger Ser­bia in the 2006 ref­er­en­dum.

“The po­lice junta did ev­ery­thing to keep Djukanovic in power,” op­po­si­tion Demo­cratic Front leader An­drija Mandic said, call­ing for a “tran­si­tional govern­ment that will not al­low this bru­tal po­lice in­ter­fer­ence in the elec­toral process.”

An­other Demo­cratic Front leader, Ne­bo­jsa Me­do­je­vic, claimed that 2,500 op­po­si­tion sup­port­ers were ques­tioned by po­lice on Sun­day “just be­cause they protested against Djukanovic.”

He said the ar­rest of the 20 “al­leged ter­ror­ists” on the elec­tion day was staged to rally Djukanovic’s sup­port­ers and scare away the op­po­nents.

“The old­est one is 73 years old and the youngest is 17, so you see what a farce this ar­rest is,” Me­do­je­vic said.

The pros­e­cu­tor’s of­fice said the group planned to at­tack peo­ple who gath­ered in front of the par­lia­ment when the vote re­sults were pro­claimed, then storm the build­ing and de­clare the vic­tory “of cer­tain par­ties.” The state­ment said they also planned to ar­rest Djukanovic.

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