Podgorica. The people of Montenegro began voting Sunday in polls expected to see pro-Western former prime minister Milo Djukanovic elected as president of the tiny Balkan nation that is aspiring to join the EU, AFP reported.Having dominated politics in the former Yugoslav republic for almost 25 years, Djukanovic stepped down as prime minister in October 2016.
Djukanovic's Democratic Socialist Party won the last general election in 2016, but he left the office to his deputy Dusko Markovic. "This is a great victory, a historic victory".
Voters in Montenegro are casting ballots at a presidential election with Prime Minister Milo Djukanovic expected to triumph after his party defied Russian Federation and required the modest Balkan nation in to North Atlantic Treaty Organisation. The Monitoring Center (CeMI) says that Djukanovic has secured a victory winning 53.8% of the vote, Bojanic has garnered 33.6%, Vuksanovic has 8.1% and Milacic has 2.9%.
Mladen Bojanic, a businessman backed by an alliance of parties, including some wanting closer ties with Russian Federation, is seen trailing Djukanovic, who has dominated politics either as prime minister or president of the Adriatic country of only 620,000 people, with 30 percent of the votes in opinion polls.
If confirmed, the result is an approbation for his move a year ago to defy Moscow and take Montenegro into the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO).
Djukanovic's main challenger is Mladen Bojanic, backed by several opposition groups, including pro-Russian ones.
"For so many years we are awaiting changes in Montenegro and I am assuming that will happen today in a democratic way that Montenegro deserves", Radmila Cagorovic, 66, a retired schoolteacher said after casting her ballot in Podgorica. "I am appealing to opposition voters not to view this as a defeat but as a basis for further struggle". President Filip Vujanovic of that party is not running due to term limits.
Some 530,000 voters will choose among several candidates.
Bojanic, an economic expert and former lawmaker, has accused the ruling party of corruption and links to organized crime following a spike in crime-related violence. The Kremlin has denied involvement.
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