Montenegro lawmakers pave the way for early polls

The government's proposal was supported by 42 deputies in the 81-seat parliament.

Montenegro lawmakers pave the way for early polls

Montenegro's parliament voted late on Monday to shorten its mandate, paving the way for President Filip Vujanovic to call early elections designed to ease preparations for European Union membership.

The government's proposal was supported by 42 deputies in the 81-seat parliament.

The country's political parties agreed after elections in 2006 to hold the next election by end-2009.

But the pro-Western government recently called for early polls in spring 2009, saying the country's path to EU membership required a fully functional government and parliament.

Following Monday's vote, Vujanovic was expected to announce the election date on Tuesday.

"Having in mind numerous EU accession obligations ahead of Montenegro, government thinks that process should be managed by the parliament and the cabinet within the full four-year term," Vice Premier Igor Luksic told parliament.

Opposition parties said the ruling coalition led by Milo Djukanovic wanted to secure re-election before the impact of the global financial crisis struck Montenegro.

"The reason for the government's proposal is to have elections before huge social problems erupt in Montenegro," said opposition People's Party leader Predrag Popovic.

Montenegro, a former Yugoslav republic of some 650,000 people, submitted a bid for EU membership in December.

Its economy, especially the tourism sector, has grown strongly since 2006 when it ended its loose union with Serbia, but it will find it hard to maintain this rate of growth as the effects of the global financial turmoil make themselves felt.

The International Monetary Fund said it expected Montenegro's economy to grow 2 percent in 2009 and 2010 -- far below the average eight percent a year since 2006.

Reuters
Last Mod: 27 Ocak 2009, 14:50
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