Montenegrin minister refuses to approve voter list ahead of general election

Montenegrin minister refuses to approve voter list ahead of general election
By Denitsa Koseva in Sofia October 6, 2016

Montenegro’s Interior Minister Goran Danilovic refused to approve the electoral roll by the deadline that expired at midnight on September 5, news outlet CDM reported. Danilovic told journalists that he would not sign the list due to concerns about its credibility.

The October 16 election is expected to be the most unpredictable in Montenegro’s short history of independence, as the long-standing ruling coalition between Prime Minister Milo Djukanovic’s Democratic Party of Socialists (DPS) and the Social Democratic Party (SDP) split earlier this year. 

However, the decision of the interior minister, one of several ministers from opposition parties that joined the government earlier this year, will raise serious concerns about the legality of the election and is expected to significantly raise tensions in the country just 10 days before the vote.

“I don’t want to prevent the elections, but I must respect my signature. I will take the unsigned document to the government session [on October 6]. Each legal problem has a solution, and this one will too,” Danilovic was quoted as saying on a session of the coordination committee that he set up  earlier this year to ensure transparent and fair elections.

Earlier on October 5, broadcaster RTCG quoted Danilovic as saying that while trying to clear the list from irregularities he and his coordination team were obstructed by members of the ruling DPS. He added that the reason for declining to sign the electoral roll was the change of voting locations for more than 100,000 of the 529,000 eligible voters, which could lead to double voting.

Montenegro’s Network for Affirmation of the NGO Sector (MANS) also raised concerns over the credibility of the electoral roll.

The NGO said that the list contains the names of more than 3,600 people aged 40 and above who were registered to vote for the first time. Among them there were several people older than 100. None of those people were on any of the previous three electoral lists and MANS said it has concerns that they could affect the outcome of the general elections. The list also includes around 50 dead people.

However, Dusko Markovic, deputy prime minister and DPS member, told local media on October 5 that the law does not allow the interior minister not to sign the electoral roll.

“The law does not stipulate the possibility to avoid signing the electoral roll. Instead it stipulates that the competent institutions provide a valid electoral register for the elections. So, Danilovic has a legal obligation to provide a valid electoral roll,” CDM quoted Markovic as saying.