Djukanovic Set to Win Montenegro Presidency

Montenegro elections likely to mark closer relations with both Russia and the West

If confirmed in the official vote count, the result will present a major boost for Djukanovic and his ruling Democratic Party of Socialists.

Mladen Bojanic, a businessman backed by an alliance of parties, including some wanting closer ties with Russian Federation, was set to come second with 33 percent, according to a projection by the Centre for Monitoring and Research (CeMI) pollster, based on a representative sample of polling stations.

Preliminary results indicate former Prime Minister Milo Djukanovic has won more than 50 per cent of the vote, thus avoiding a run-off.

Sunday's vote passed off peacefully amid fears of disorder after 20 people were arrested and accused of trying to stage a coup during legislative elections in 2016.

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

Montenegro appears to have elected a president vying to develop closer ties with the West, according to initial projections.

Djukanovic was prime minister during a tense October 2016 parliamentary election when authorities said they thwarted a pro-Russian coup attempt created to prevent the country from joining North Atlantic Treaty Organisation.

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".

The country has also been marred by organized crime, with about 20 people killed by assassinations or auto bombs over the last two years.

Businessman Mladen Bojanic was projected for second place with 34.2 percent. "I will continue the struggle to liberate Montenegro from Djukanovic's dictatorship".

Mr Djukanovic has been accused by the opposition of being linked to the mafia, which he denies.

His strongest rival is Bojanic, who has the support of most opposition parties, including pro-Russian factions, and is expected to secure around a third of the vote.

Bojanic conceded defeat, saying: "Montenegro chose the way it chose".

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

All candidate countries are strongly encouraged to align their foreign policy with the European Union, including regarding Russian Federation.

While Sunday's presidential election was less tense, CEMI and another monitoring group, CDT, reported numerous irregularities at dozens of polling stations.

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