President of Montenegro dissolves parliament ahead of elections | Politics News

Milo Djukanovic dissolves the National Assembly after the Prime Minister-designate fails to form a government.

Montenegrin President Milo Djukanovic issued a decree to dissolve parliament, days before a presidential election.

Thursday’s decision came as a three-month legal deadline expired for former top diplomat and prime minister-designate Miodrag Lekic to form a government.

According to the country’s constitution, an election must be called one day after parliament is dissolved. The president must set a date for a new parliamentary vote 60 to 100 days after the decree.

Parliament was removed from office before Montenegrins head to the polls on Sunday to elect a president. Djukanovic, who has held senior political posts in Montenegro for the past 30 years, is one of seven candidates.

Political unrest in Montenegro has worsened since the 2020 parliamentary elections, in which Djukanovic’s Democratic Party of Socialists suffered a historic defeat against a church-backed coalition.

Two governments have since collapsed, the last in August, which nevertheless remained in place, sparking a wave of protests and calls for snap elections.

Although Montenegro’s president has a largely ceremonial role, analysts see Sunday’s vote as a potential turning point in the country’s political woes.

Djukanovic, the architect of Montenegro’s independence from Serbia in 2006, remains the favourite. However, he is a controversial figure who has been accused of corruption, links to organized crime and attacks on independent journalists – charges he denies.

The 61-year-old will face strong competition, notably from Andrija Mandic, the candidate of the pro-Russian Democratic Front.

The other two main rivals are Jakov Milatovic, a young economist from the increasingly popular Europe Now movement and the leader of the centre-right Democrats.

If no candidate obtains more than 50% of the vote, a second round will take place on April 2, which is a likely result.

The country of 620,000 people, a third of whom identify as Serbs, is a member of NATO and aspires to join the European Union.

Over the years, Montenegro has been divided between those who identify as Montenegrins and those who consider themselves Serbs and oppose the country’s independence from Serbia.

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