Montenegro's president wins second mandate

Outgoing president Filip Vujanovic claimed victory in the Balkan state's presidential election, after one of Montenegro's election monitoring bodies estimated he had a 52.3% lead. Montenegro split from neighbouring Serbia two years ago.


PODGORICA, April 6 (Reuters) - Montenegro's President Filip
Vujanovic won re-election on Sunday, reaffirming the dominance
of the ruling Democratic Party of Socialists (DPS) on the
country's political scene.

The CEMI agency, one of Montenegro's most respected election
monitoring bodies, said Vujanovic received 52.3 percent of the
vote, comfortably over the 50 percent required to clinch the
largely ceremonial post in the first round.

The results were based on a partial ballot count. Final
results from the state election commission are due on Monday,
but the key challengers have already conceded defeat.

Vujanovic, a senior DPS official and close ally of popular
Prime Minister Milo Djukanovic, campaigned on a platform
stressing his experience, pro-Western stance and long-time
support for Montenegrin independence.

"This is a victory for all of us, for our Montenegro and for
a better future," Vujanovic, 53, told his supporters after
results were announced. "I also want to express my gratitude to
those who voted for my opponents. I will be the president of all
of Montenegro's citizens."

The former Yugoslav republic of some 650,000 people voted to
end its loose union with neighbour Serbia in 2006 and has since
enjoyed strong growth, faster progress towards the European
Union and a positive image as a booming tourism destination.

The West says its main challenges are weak institutions and
endemic corruption, partly blamed on the DPS' continuous 19-year
rule over a closely knit society that prefers getting things
done through personal ties and political patronage.

Analysts say change could be slower now that Djukanovic, who
served as either president or prime minister from 1991 to 2006,
is back in power.

The 46-year old quit politics one-and-a-half years ago,
turning down the PM's post in favour of a close ally, but
returned when his protege resigned due to illness in January.

"Vujanovic and the DPS have a very loyal voting base," said
analyst Srdjan Bogosavljevic of the Belgrade-based Strategic
Marketing polling agency.

Commenting on prominent anti-corruption campaigner Nebojsa
Medojevic coming in a surprise third with a lacklustre 17
percent, Bogosavljevic said it was because "young people in
Montenegro are abstaining, as in all post-communist states".

The election also showed that ethnic-based platforms might
slowly be becoming less relevant as the country prospers.

Andrija Mandic wooed the Serb minority by promising closer
ties with Belgrade and vowing never to recognise Kosovo, the
former Serbian province which seceded in February.

He received some 19 percent of the vote, while ethnic Serbs
make up between 25 and 30 percent of Montenegro's citizens.

Monitors said total turnout was 68.7 percent.

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