Milo Djukanovic dissolves National Assembly after PM-elect fails to form government.
Montenegrin President Milo Djukanovic has issued a decree dissolving parliament days ahead of a presidential election.
Thursday’s move came as a three-month legal deadline for former top diplomat and prime minister-designate Miodrag Lekic to form a government expired.
According to the country’s constitution, new elections should be called the day after parliament is dissolved. The president must set a date for a new parliamentary vote 60 to 100 days after the decree.
Parliament was dismissed before Montenegrins were due to go to the polls on Sunday to elect a president. Djukanovic, who has held senior political positions in Montenegro for the past 30 years, is one of seven candidates.
Political turmoil in Montenegro has intensified since parliamentary elections in 2020, in which Djukanovic’s Democratic Socialist Party suffered a historic defeat at the hands of a church-backed coalition.
Since then, two governments have collapsed, the last in August remaining in place, sparking a wave of protests and calls for early elections.
Though Montenegro’s president plays a largely ceremonial role, analysts see Sunday’s vote as a possible turning point in the country’s political woes.
Djukanovic, the architect of Montenegro’s independence from Serbia in 2006, remains the favourite. However, he is a controversial figure who has been accused of corruption, links to organized crime and attacks on independent journalists – allegations he denies.
The 61-year-old will face stiff competition, particularly from pro-Russian Democratic Front candidate Andrija Mandic.
The other two main contenders are Jakov Milatovic, a young economist from the increasingly popular Europe Now movement and the leader of the centre-right Democrats.
If no candidate gets more than 50 percent of the vote, there will be a runoff on April 2, which is a likely outcome.
The country of 620,000 people, a third of whom identify as Serbs, is a NATO member and aspires to join the European Union.
Over the years, Montenegro has been divided between those who identify as Montenegrins and those who identify as Serbs and oppose the country’s independence from Serbia.