* Pro-Western incumbents lead, but no overall majority
* Serbian nationals suspected of planning election attacks
* Djukanovic says to seek coalition with national minorities
By Aleksandar Vasovic
PODGORICA, Oct 17 The Democratic Party of
Socialists (DPS) secured the most votes in Montenegro's
parliamentary election, but with pollsters saying it could not
secure a majority, pro-Western Prime Minister Milo Djukanovic
sought a coalition to extend his quarter of a century in power.
Djukanovic, 54, said the election on Sunday was a historic
choice between closer ties with NATO or with Russia, but voters
The preliminary vote count by the pollsters CEMI suggested
the DPS would win 36 seats in the 81-seat parliament, five short
of an absolute majority.
Official results by the state election authority were
expected in the coming days.
In a midnight address to his supporters, Djukanovic said he
would seek a coalition with parties of national minorities,
Bosniaks, Croats and Albanians and the Social Democracy party to
secure between 41 to 42 seats.
"Immediately after the announcement of the official vote
count, we will start negotiations ... we will form the
government," Djukanovic told his supporters in the capital,
The outcome leaves Montenegro, a former Yugoslav republic of
620,000 people, deeply divided, with its long-serving leader
scrambling to build a majority in a fractious parliament.
Montenegrins turned out in record numbers to vote amid
allegations of media and party websites being hacked, polling
station violence and the arrest of a group of Serbians accused
of plotting armed attacks on state institutions and officials.
The authorities said 20 people, all citizens of neighbouring
Serbia, were arrested on Sunday, accused of entering Montenegro
intending to attack state institutions and officials.
With over 95 percent of votes counted, pollsters CEMI
forecast that the Democratic Forum (DF), an opposition alliance
of pro-Western parties and others that want stronger ties with
traditional allies in Serbia and Russia, would have 18 seats.
Together with all other opposition parties and alliances, it
could garner as many as 42 seats. Party leaders from both the
DPS and the opposition claimed victory, although DPS is
better-placed to form a government.
Djukanovic has previously said Russia sees the vote as an
opportunity to derail the Balkan region's rush towards joining
the North Atlantic Treaty Organization and the European Union.
Opposition parties have denied his allegations they receive
Russian funding and have accused him of running Montenegro as a
corrupt personal fiefdom.
"Montenegro is continuing towards its European future, we
will ratify NATO membership and complete EU accession talks by
the end of the (fresh) mandate, we will bring new investments,
improve living standards," Djukanovic told supporters late on
Djukanovic's backers say membership will bring peace and
prosperity, but the issue is divisive. NATO bombed Montenegro in
1999 to stop ethnic killings in Kosovo by Serbia, with which
Montenegro was in a state union.
Western analysts have long viewed with concern signs of
growing Russian influence in Montenegro, with which it shares
Orthodox Christian and economic ties. Some diplomats say last
year's invitation to join NATO was designed to counter that.
But the economy needs close ties to both east and west. It
has grown at 3.2 percent a year over the past decade on the back
of foreign investments in energy, mining and tourism in a
country famed for its mountains and seacoast.
(Reporting by Aleksandar Vasovic; Editing by Peter Cooney)