Pro-Western Djukanovic wins Montenegro presidency

Pro-Western Djukanovic wins Montenegro presidency
Milo Djukanovic speaks during a celebration after presidential elections in Montenegro's capital, Podgorica. Credit: AP Photo/Risto Bozovic.

Montenegro's pro-Western ruling party leader Milo Djukanovic has won an outright victory in the country's presidential vote, avoiding a run-off, according to official results.

A near-complete vote count showed Mr Djukanovic won 54% of the ballot, while his main opponent, Mladen Bojanic, had 33.3%, Montenegro's state election authorities said.

Draginja Vuksanovic, the first ever female presidential candidate in the staunchly conservative, male-dominated Balkan nation on the Adriatic Sea, came in third with 8.2%.

Sunday's vote, the first since Montenegro joined the Nato Western military alliance in December, was seen as a test for Mr Djukanovic, who favours European integration over closer ties to traditional ally Moscow.

Mr Djukanovic led Montenegro to independence from much-larger Serbia in 2006 and was behind last year's accession into Nato, which Slavic ally Russia strongly opposed.

He said his victory means Montenegro will stick to its plan to join the European Union next.

Mr Djukanovic has dominated Montenegrin politics for nearly 30 years, serving both as president and prime minister in several governments.

Analysts predicted he will add weight to the largely ceremonial presidency. Incumbent president Filip Vujanovic did not run due to term limitations.

"His authority overcomes that of a president and I am certain that Djukanovic will have a much more important role than previous presidents," analyst Milos Besic said on the state TV Montenegro.

Opposition have accused Mr Djukanovic of corruption and blamed the government led by his ruling Democratic Party of Socialists for a spike in violence.

In his victory speech late on Sunday, Mr Djukanovic promised to work to overcome divisions within Montenegro, where many still cherish close ties with Moscow.

Mr Djukanovic was prime minister during a tense October 2016 parliamentary election when authorities said they thwarted a pro-Russian coup attempt designed to prevent the country from joining Nato.

- Digital Desk and Press Association

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