Montenegro presidential vote set on March 19

by Cristian Florescu

The election of a new president is seen as a crucial step to end months-long political deadlock after incumbent Milo Djukanovic rejected a new prime minister-designate.

Montenegro’s parliamentary speaker has set March 19 as the date for a presidential election that will challenge the long-time rule of incumbent President Milo Djukanovic, who has been among the leaders of the Adriatic country for the past three decades.

The office of president is largely ceremonial, but a new person in the job could end a months-long political deadlock created after Djukanovic rejected a new prime minister-designate proposed by the parliamentary majority, citing procedural errors.

Veteran politician Miodrag Lekic was rejected as the candidate for premier after a no-confidence motion in the Cabinet of incumbent Prime Minister Dritan Abazovic in August. 

That was the second no-confidence motion in the government last year.

Lekic was declared PM-designate in December under new legislation that Djukanovic said was anti-constitutional. 

He subsequently failed to get support for his proposed government.

There are more than 500,000 eligible voters in Montenegro as of the 2020 parliament elections. 

Politics in Montenegro, a NATO member and a candidate to join the European Union, have long been marked by a rift between those who identify as Montenegrins and those who see themselves as Serbs and oppose Montenegro’s independence from a former state union with neighbouring and much larger Serbia.

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