Montenegro voted yesterday to choose a government that will lead EU entry talks for the tiny Balkans country currently in the grip of a deep economic crisis.
Polling stations opened at 7am, but only a handful of voters braved the rain on a cold autumn day in the capital, Podgorica.
The ruling center-left coalition led by the Democratic Party of Socialists (DPS), led by former Montenegrin prime minister Milo Djukanovic, called the elections six months before the official end of its mandate after the EU opened accession talks in June.
The latest opinion polls show that the DPS is heading for its third win in as many elections since Montenegro’s independence from decades-long partner Serbia in 2006, despite the current economic crisis.
After voting in a polling station in central Podgorica, 50-year-old electrician Rajko Vukcevic, who runs his own business, said he backed Djukanovic.
“Montenegro is going forward to the European Union, and I believe that we have to trust those who led us toward this great goal,” he said.
Surveys put Djukanovic’s coalition ahead with 47 percent of the votes compared with 40 percent for the opposition.
Djukanovic is the only leader in the volatile Balkans whose party has survived and won every election since the start of the bloody wars of the 1990s. Since independence he has served twice as prime minister and was president from 1998 to 2002.
The opposition, united in the Democratic Front coalition led by former Montenegrin foreign minister Miodrag Lekic, has tried to hit the ruling party in its weak spots: an unemployment rate at 20 percent and ongoing claims of government corruption.
“I am fed-up with empty promises. For 20 years, the same situation, the same people, the same promises, but no results. The time has come for change,” Sreten Pejovic, a 45-year-old construction worker from Podgorica, said after voting for the opposition.
In its annual progress report, the European Commission said that Montenegro, which has about 625,000 inhabitants, has implemented key economic reforms, but said it should make more efforts to uphold the rule of law and fight organized crime and corruption.
Montenegro’s economy grew by 2.7 percent last year, with the government forecasting an expansion of just 0.5 percent this year.
FOX HUNT: To suppress dissent, Chinese living abroad that Xi Jinping sees as threats are told to either return to China or commit suicide, Christopher Wray said Chinese agents have been pursuing hundreds of Chinese nationals living in the US in an effort to force their return, as part of a global campaign against the country’s diaspora, known as Operation Fox Hunt, FBI Director Christopher Wray said on Tuesday. In a speech about the security threat posed by China, during which he said Beijing’s counterintelligence work was the “greatest long-term threat to our nation’s information and intellectual property, and to our economic vitality,” Wray gave the example of one Fox Hunt target who was given a choice of going back to China or killing themselves. Fox Hunt was launched
‘WOULD NOT COMPLY’: The company’s user data are kept in Singapore and it would not turn the data over to Beijing even if asked, TikTok chief executive Kevin Mayer said Social media app TikTok has distanced itself from Beijing after India banned 59 Chinese apps in the country, according to a correspondence seen by Reuters. In a letter to the Indian government dated on Sunday last week and seen by Reuters on Friday, TikTok chief executive Kevin Mayer said the Chinese government has never requested user data, nor would the company turn it over if asked. TikTok, which is not available in China, is owned by China’s ByteDance, but has sought to distance itself from its Chinese roots to appeal to a global audience. Along with 58 other Chinese apps, including Tencent
‘FIGHT FOR FREEDOM’: Hong Kongers will never bow to Beijing, the advocate said, while the US’ envoy to the territory called China’s new security law a ‘tragedy’ The world must stand in solidarity with Hong Kongers after Beijing imposed sweeping national security legislation on the semi-autonomous territory, advocate Joshua Wong (黃之鋒) said yesterday, vowing to continue campaigning for democracy. Wong, one of the territory’s most prominent young advocates and a figure loathed by Beijing, was speaking outside a court where he and fellow advocates are being prosecuted for involvement in last year’s pro-democracy protests. China last week enacted sweeping security legislation for the restless territory, banning acts of subversion, secession, terrorism and collusion with foreign forces. The legislation has sent a wave of fear through the territory, and criminalized dissenting
A squad of gun-toting police officers patrolled Myanmar’s sacred site of Bagan under the cover of night, taking on plunderers snatching relics from temples forsaken by tourists due to COVID-19 restrictions. Each evening as dusk falls, about 100 officers fan out across the plain of Bagan covering 50km2, sweeping flashlights over the crumbling monuments to scour for intruders. “Our security forces are patrolling day and night,” Police Lieutenant Colonel Sein Win told reporters. “We have it under control for the moment, but it’s a challenge.” The central Burmese city is strewn with more than 3,500 ancient monuments — stupas, temples, murals and sculptures