Montenegro elects pro-West president Milo Djukanovic, projections show

Djurica

Djurica

Montenegro's former prime minister and long-ruling Democratic Party of Socialists leader Milo Djukanovic speaks during a celebration after presidential elections in Montenegro's capital, Podgorica, on Sunday.

"Victory for the European future of Montenegro", said the pro-Western economist who led Montenegro to independence from Serbia in 2016 and into North Atlantic Treaty Organisation a year ago.

With 80 percent of ballots counted, the Center for Monitoring and Research said on Sunday that Djukanovic had won about 53 percent of the vote, ahead of his main opponent Mladen Bojanic with 34 percent.

The Balkan nation's ruling social democrat party declared its head Milo Djukanovic the victor after 90% of the votes were counted, winning 53% of the ballots.

Djukanovic who has served as the prime minister of Montenegro for six terms, and one term as president, told a press conference Sunday night at his party headquarters that "another valuable victory was achieved for the benefit of the European future of Montenegro".

About 530,000 voters were eligible to vote in the election.

"I will win today", Djukanovic predicted after voting.

Opposition member Mladen Bojanic came second.

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The issue of organised crime has cast a shadow on the campaign, with some 20 people killed by assassination or auto bombs over the last two years.

"I agree with Djukanovic that the state is stronger than the mafia".

Djukanovic had claimed the opposition wanted to turn the country into a "Russian province" and threaten Montenegro's multicultural way of life.

His presidential candidacy is supported by the DPS's ruling coalition partner Social Democrats, as well as Bosniak, Croat and Albanian minorities.

Pro-Russian Marko Milacic, a candidate forecasted to win just three percent of the vote, accuses Djukanovic of being most responsible for the "situation in the country, from bloody streets to the foreign policy and a ruined economy".

For Djukanovic, however, the choice between Brussels and Moscow is crucial to Montenegro's development.

But for the 620,000 people in Montenegro, their votes may have been swayed by what work prospects are offered by the candidates rather than ties to the West or Russian Federation.

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