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BELGRADE (Reuters) – Montenegro’s President Milo Djukanovic on Friday set June 11 as the date for a snap parliamentary vote, a day after he dissolved parliament and just before a weekend election when he is seeking another five-year term.

“In line with the constitution … I have decided to call parliamentary elections on June 11,” Djukanovic told a news conference in the capital Podgorica.

Prime Minister Dritan Abazovic’s acting government lost a no-confidence parliamentary vote in August 2022, in the second such motion last year.

Djukanovic has refused to appoint a prime minister-designate proposed by the parliamentary majority, citing procedural errors.

Analysts say that although presidential powers are largely ceremonial in Montenegro, a victory in Sunday’s presidential poll would significantly bolster the chances of the winner’s party in the snap parliamentary vote.

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Over the years, Montenegro, a NATO member and a European Union membership candidate, has been divided between those who identify as Montenegrins and those who see themselves as Serbs and favour closer ties with neighbouring Serbia and with Russia.

Following the invasion of Ukraine last year, Montenegro has joined EU sanctions against Russia. The Kremlin in return placed Montenegro on its list of unfriendly states.

Djukanovic’s main opponents in Sunday’s election are Andrija Mandic, the head of the Democratic Front, which wants closer ties with neighboring Serbia and Russia, and Jakov Milatovic, a pro-Western economist and the deputy head of the Europe Now movement.

Opponents accuse Djukanovic and his Democratic Party of Socialists (DPS) of corruption, links to organised crime, and of running the country of only 620,000 people as their personal fiefdom – charges Djukanovic and his party deny.

(Reporting by Aleksandar Vasovic; Editing by Barbara Lewis)

Copyright 2023 Thomson Reuters.

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