Montenegro President Blames Outside Interference for Election Loss

Milo Djukanovic has made clear his displeasure at the way Albanian and Kosovo leaders contributed to his own party’s defeat in local elections in the new municipality of Tuzi.

Milo Djukanovic in Podgorica, Montenegro, 2019. Photo: EPA-EFE/BORIS PEJOVIC

Montenegrin President Milo Djukanovic has criticized Kosovo and Albanian officials for supporting the ethnic Albanian coalition that won local elections held in the recently reconstituted municipality of Tuzi.

The Albanian Forum won half the seats in historic first local elections in Tuzi, a newly formed municipality that the country’s ethnic Albanian minority had long lobbied for.

During the election campaign, Kosovo President Hashim Thaçi and Albania’s Prime Minister Edi Rama made calls for Albanian unity in support of the Albanian coalition.

After his ruling Democratic Party of Socialists, DPS, came second in the elections, the President made clear his disappointment. “I always try not to interfere in the political processes in other countries. I have never come up with recommendations to Montenegrin voters in any country, and here we have had such recommendations … which has contributed to this outcome,” Djukanovic told the public broadcaster on Wednesday.

However, Djukanovic added that he still wished to congratuate the Albanian Forum on its win and in no way disputed its right to run the local authority in Tuzi.

“We have had a regular process and I congratulate the Albanian coalition on its victory and I believe it will support Montenegro’s multi-ethnic stability,” Djukanovic said, dismissing any talk about potential threats to the Montenegrin state.

Djukanovic’s DPS will not be joining coalition talks in Tuzi. Instead, the Albanian forum, which holds 16 of the 32 seats in the local assembly, had invited the Bosniak, Social Democratic and Democratic Montenegro parties to help it achieve a stable majority, Albanian coalition leader Nik Djelosaj said.

“We will choose with whom we will form the government. We will respect the will of those political forces that want to cooperate … and this will be the main condition for forming the ruling majority in Tuzi,” Djelosaj wrote on the Albanian portal

The Tuzi area borders the capital, Podgorica, on one side and stretches to the border with Albania on the other. It is also known as Malesia.

Historically, it had municipal status, but lost this status in 1957. Its old status was restored last year.

Montenegro is a multi-ethnic state and is highly unusual in having no overwhelming community that makes up over half of its population. About 45 per cent of the population identify as Montenegrins and about 29 per cent as Serbs. Albanians make up about 5 per cent of the population.

There is little tension between Albanians and the dominant Montenegrins. But there has long been a demand for Tuzi to become a municipality again.

Samir Kajosevic