Montenegrin government dissolved as PM resigns

 

THE RESIGNATION yesterday of the prime minister of Montenegro has resulted in the automatic dissolution of the government.

In a nationally televised press conference, Milo Djukanovic spoke of his achievements, including gaining independence from Serbia in a 2006 referendum, and Montenegro’s acceptance as a candidate country for EU accession, and for Nato.

Born in 1962, Mr Djukanovic first came to prominence as a member of the Montenegrin Communist Youth firebrands, labelled the “young, smart and good looking”, quickly earning himself the nickname “cut-throat” for his razor sharp rhetoric.

On January 10th, 1989, the leaders of the group, known as the “jumperashi” or jumper wearers because of their disdain for the formal uniform of the suited elite, forced out the Montenegrin communist old guard in an administrative putsch engineered by then Yugoslav president Slobodan Milosovic and the Yugoslav intelligence services.

To the surprise of many, Mr Djukanovic, then just 29, was appointed prime minister of Montenegro’s first democratically elected government, beginning two decades as his country’s dominant political figure.

At first, Mr Djukanovic stood solidly behind Milosovic’s “Greater Serbia” project, supporting the assault on Dubrovnik, deporting Bosnian Muslims to certain death in Foca, and declaring the Dayton Peace Agreement, which ended the war in Bosnia, as “anti-Serb”.

In 1996, sensing the winds of change, Mr Djukanovic began to distance himself from the sinking ship of the Milosovic regime, presenting himself as a “friend of the West” and becoming a supporter of Montenegrin independence.

After a referendum in 2006, Montenegro became the last Republic to leave the Former Yugoslavia, but the first to leave without a shot being fired in anger – a formidable achievement given the fact that one third of the population declared allegiance to Serbia.

Mr Djukanovic’s undoubted political skill and pragmatism have been marred by a cigarette smuggling scandal over which he himself was named as a key suspect in an Italian prosecution. Other controversies dogging him have included human trafficking allegations, persistent perceptions of high-level corruption, links to organised crime and persecution of journalists and high-profile figures in civil society.

Mr Djukanovic has denied he was encouraged to leave office as a prerequisite for Montenegro’s further progress towards EU integration, stating that, on the contrary, several countries had asked him to stay on for the sake of regional stability.