Montenegro elects pro-West president Milo Djukanovic, projections show

Montenegro to elect new president on Sunday

Montenegro to elect new president on Sunday

Milo Djukanovic, the candidate for Montenegro's ruling Democratic Party of Socialists (DPS), has returned from self-imposed retirement to clinch a landslide win in presidential elections.

The Center for Election Monitoring (CeMI) projected Djukanovic winning over 53 percent of the vote, which would give him an outright victory in Sunday's election.

Montenegro's ruling party leader Milo Djukanovic swept a presidential election on Sunday, preliminary results showed, and he pledged to keep the small Balkan country firmly on a European path after it joined North Atlantic Treaty Organisation a year ago in defiance of Russian Federation.

The win marks Djukanovic's return to the office he already held from 1998 until 2002.

After the initial projections, party officials described the vote as a "great victory, a historic victory".

However, the DPS and Djukanovic led Montenegro into North Atlantic Treaty Organisation a year ago and have pledged to complete talks for European Union membership.

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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.

Based on the projection, Montenegro's ruling party declared its leader the victor.

The vote, the first since Montenegro joined North Atlantic Treaty Organisation, was seen as a test for Mr Djukanovic and his bid for European integration. Djukanovic challenger will be Mladen Bojanic, backed by resistance groups, for example types that are pro-Russian. "I will continue the struggle to liberate Montenegro from Djukanovic's dictatorship". "I am appealing to opposition voters not to view this as a defeat but as a basis for further struggle".

Djukanovic, the country's dominant politician, and his Democratic Party of Socialists have ruled Montenegro for almost 30 years.

Djukanovic, who has previously served as president and prime minister, faced off several other candidates.

Two Russian citizens also are being tried in absentia for the plot, which prosecutors said included a plan to assassinate Djukanovic. The Kremlin has denied involvement.

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