Opposition parties in Montenegro have said they will not recognize the outcome of Sunday's election. With final results still pending, the results looks set to go to the wire in the crucial poll.
Prime Minister Milo Djukanovic and his Democratic Party of Socialists (DPS) declared victory on Monday after claiming they had won 35 seats in the 81-seat parliament.
Djukanovic, 54, and his DPS - in power since the first multi-party polls in Montenegro in 1991 - are expected to control the majority. According to projections by the Centre for Monitoring and Research (Cemi), the DPS have 35 seats, the Democratic Front 18 seats, the Kljuc coalition and Democrats of Montenegro nine each and the Social Democratic Party five.
"With our 36 seats and ... our traditional partners, the coalition for the European future of Montenegro will doubtlessly have at least 42 seats," Djukanovic told supporters celebrating the win. "As soon as official results are declared, we will start negotiations with partners and soon establish the new government," he added. Djukanovic said earlier Monday that Montenegro remains on track for NATO and EU membership.
The outcome of the coalition negotiations will indicate whether the country continues its move to the West, or turns back to traditional ally Russia.
Djukanovic - a former communist turned pro-West supporter - has led the Balkan state for 27 years as president and prime minister. He was pivotal in the country's split from much larger Serbia in the 2006 referendum.
The opposition parties - which will likely end up with 39 or 40 seats - said late Monday that they will not acknowledge the result because of what they said were "massive abuses" at the polls. The opposition - partly pro-Russian - is opposed to the country's NATO and EU membership ambitions.
These "abuses" include a statement on Sunday that 20 Serbian nationals had been arrested over terrorist plans to destabilize the country, the daily "Vijesti" reported online.
The multi-party opposition has urged minority representatives to join their ranks to form the new cabinet and also demanded an international probe into the allegations of a terrorist plan.
Montenegro blocked popular messaging services WhatsApp and Viber during the parliamentary election. "Blocking such apps is unthinkable in any normal country," said opposition party leader Ranko Krivokapic, who previously monitored voting for the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE). "I have never heard of that happening anywhere ever in an election."
Opposition leaders also claim thousands of their supporters were rounded up by the police on election day. Opposition Democratic Front leader Nebojsa Medojevic claimed that 2,500 opposition supporters were questioned by police on Sunday "just because they protested against Djukanovic."
The OSCE vote-monitoring mission said in its report Monday the elections "were held in a competitive environment and fundamental freedoms were generally respected."
jbh/cmk (AP, dpa)