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Protests in Montenegro against PM

October 25, 2015

Police in Montenegro have fired tear gas at opposition protestors outside the parliament building. They were calling for the resignation of Prime Minister Milo Djukanovic's government.

Police in Montenegro use tear gas against protesters
Image: REUTERS/Stevo Vasiljevic

Several thousand protesters charged the parliament building in the capital Podgorica on Saturday night, shouting "Milo thief" as they threw objects at riot police guarding the building. Police launched tear gas and chased the demonstrators in armored vehicles.

Tear gas smoke spread through the area, according to witnesses who said several shop windows were broken.

Afterwards, the government promised citizens via Twitter that "Podgorica will function normally tomorrow."

Prime Minister Milo Djukanovic has been in power for 25 years, and the opposition have accused him of authoritarian rule. On Saturday, as the protesters gathered at a central square in the capital, opposition leader Nebojsa Medojevic shouted "the dictator must fall."

"More than 25 years in power would be too much even if he was Mahatma Gandhi and not this thief," 30-year-old protester Raso told the AFP news agency.

The protesters called for free and fair elections to be organized by a transitional government in place of Dukanovic.

"Montenegro has been destroyed by corruption, crime and the dictatorship of one person," said Nebojsa Medojevic of the Democratic Front, the main opposition bloc.

Joining NATO

The prime minister has rejected calls for his resignation, saying instead he would call early elections after December's meeting of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), when Montenegro is expected to be invited to join the military alliance of 28 western nations.

Some of the demonstrators carried barriers with the slogan "No to NATO." Many in the opposition are opposed to joining NATO, which practices a system of collective defense in response to an attack by any external party. Montenegro has historic ties to Russia.

Zoran Kovacevic, a 57-year-old unemployed electrician said on Saturday: "we are against NATO but most of all we are hungry."

A week ago, police used teargas to break up a demonstration by several hundred activists who were trying to protest outside parliament despite a ban.

Montenegro, with a population of 600,000, split from Serbia in 2006.

jm/bk (AFP, AP)