Montenegro holds runoff presidential election

Montenegro holds runoff presidential election

Economist Milatovic, President Djukanovic face-off in 8th presidential election since country transitioned to multi-party system in 1990

By Talha Ozturk

BELGRADE, Serbia (AA) - Montenegrin voters head to the polls Sunday for the second round of presidential election after no candidate managed to secure more than 50% of the vote on March 19.

Over 542,000 registered voters will determine who will be president for the next five-year term as the polls opened at 7 a.m. local time (0500GMT) and are set to remain open until 8 p.m. (1800GMT).

Incumbent President Milo Djukanovic of the Democratic Party of Socialists of Montenegro and economist Jakov Milatovic of the newly-formed Europe Now group will face-off in the runoff in the Western Balkan nation's eighth presidential election since the country transitioned to a multi-party system in 1990.

Having served six times as the prime minister and twice as the president, Djukanovic, 61, is known for his pro-Western policies.

It will be followed by early parliamentary elections on June 11.

The turnout was 62.7% in the first round.

- Political crisis in Montenegro

The process of forming a new government, which started after the administration led by Prime Minister Dritan Abazovic failed last year's vote of confidence, has since devolved into a political crisis.

Abazovic's government had caused controversy after signing a "fundamental agreement" with the Serbian Orthodox Church’s Patriarch Porfirije for Montenegro to give the church "official status."

While pro-Serbian parties proposed that lawmaker Miodrag Lekic form a new government, Djukanovic refused to give him a mandate on grounds that he did not fulfill the necessary conditions.

But Lekic was later tasked with forming the government after the passage of a law that restricted presidential powers in the government’s formation.

But he failed to do so, falling short of the majority support in parliament needed to form a government within the stipulated time limit.

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