Parliament vote paves way to early elections

The Montenegro Parliament approved its own dissolution Monday in the hope that new elections likely to be held in March will give it a clear mandate to negotiate the ex-Yugoslav republic's integration into the European Union.


AFP - Montenegro's parliament voted late Monday to dissolve itself, freeing the country's president to call fresh elections in a bid to speed up European integration for the ex-Yugoslav republic.

The 81-seat Montenegrin assembly voted by 42 votes to 13 to wind up its session ahead of the full four-year term, with President Filip Vujanovic set to call a new vote expected to take place in late March over the coming days.

Nine deputies among the 64 present abstained, as the government sought a return to the polls on the grounds that Montenegro "faces numerous and very important duties in its bid to join the European Union."

The government said it needs a "full, four-year mandate" to achieve that goal.

Montenegro split from Serbia in 2006 following a national referendum, and formally applied to join the European Union on December 15.

It signed a "Stabilisation and Association Agreement" with the European Union in October 2007, the first stage in a country's quest for membership.

The first parliamentary elections, which saw the Democratic Party of Socialists (DPS) of Montenegro's Prime Minister Milo Djukanovic emerge on top, were held soon after the independence referendum.

Recent polls have placed Djukanovic's DPS as frontrunners to remain in power, preserving an almost 20-year domination of the political scene in Montenegro.

Opposition parties accused the government of trying to prolong its shelf-life before the global financial crisis affected its economy further.

Economic growth in Montenegro is predicted to slow to around two percent over the next two years compared with double-digit rates since independence in 2006, the International Monetary Fund said in December.

According to its central bank, Montenegro's gross domestic product (GDP) growth reached 10.7 percent in 2007, and was expected to measure 8.0 percent in 2008.

Its economy has largely flourished thanks to foreign investment since it declared independence.

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