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Milo Djukanovic wins Montenegro's presidential election

Milo Djukanovic wins Montenegro's presidential election

Voting has begun in Montenegro with pro-western former prime minister Milo Djukanovic expected to be elected president of the small Balkan country.

When supported, the outcome will present a big raise for Djukanovic, that defied this past year, Russian Federation to carry his own country.

Djukanovic's Democratic Party of Socialists (DPS) declared him the victor on the evening of April 15.

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

However, Mr Djukanovic has claimed that the opposition wants to turn the country into a "Russian province" and threaten Montenegro's multicultural way of life.

Djukanovic is set to replace incumbent President Filip Vujanovic, whose mandate expires in May.

Djukanovic, a candidate running for the ruling Democratic Party of Socialists (DPS) was the favourite to win Sunday's elections. "Congratulation to Montenegro citizens on free and democratic presidential elections". His main opponent, Mladen Bojanic, won 33 percent.

On Sunday Bojanic said he voted to "put an end to the reign of an autocrat who wants to turn Montenegro into a dictatorship".

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He had accused Djukanovic of being "the creator of the instability and chaos that we witness in the streets of Montenegro".

"I am convinced that we will not let citizens down and that in next five years we will be also able to make that step (towards full European Union membership)", Djukanovic said at the headquarters of DPS in front of several hundred supporters. "But the problem is that I do not know which side he is on", he added.

The turnout was 64 per cent out of nearly 530,000 eligible voters in the small Adriatic country of some 650,000 people.

Challenger Bojanic, who was backed by several opposition groups, including pro-Russian ones, vowed to continue his struggle against Djukanovic, describing him as "the man holding Montenegro and its institutions hostage".

Surveys indicate Djukanovic can win over 1 / 2 of those votes and also prevent a runoff. The average salary in Montenegro sits at around €500 ($615) and unemployment is more than 20 percent.

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

The EU in its 2016 country progress report told Montenegro it should continue its efforts to reduce organised crime, in particular on human trafficking and money laundering, and also noted the problem of worldwide cigarette smuggling through the port of Bar.