Montenegro’s opposition sign deal to join government

By bne IntelliNews April 27, 2016

Representatives of opposition parties in Montenegro signed a long-expected agreement with prime minister Milo Djukanovic's Democratic Party of Socialists (DPS) on the entry of the opposition to the government on April 26. However, the parties also signed another document, pledging that they will not form coalitions with the DPS either before or after the general election this autumn.

The agreement is expected to bring political stability in Montenegro ahead of the general election after months of protests and declining trust in the transparency of election process. Moreover, all parties that signed the pact pledged to accept the results of the election. In a resolution adopted in March, the European Parliament also urged Montenegrin political parties to resume dialogue and ensure fair elections.

A day earlier, on April 25, the DPS and the opposition parties finally agreed on special legislation that should allow the opposition’s entry into the government and secure fair elections. The legislation was tabled in parliament and is expected to be voted on later this week.

The agreement was inked by the leaders of the Social Democratic Party (SDP), which was the DPS’s former long-term ally, but refused to support the government in a January confidence vote, Demos, URA and the Bosniak party, news service CDM reported on April 26. Pozitivna Crna Gora is also expected to sign the agreement. Another opposition party - the Socialist People's Party (SNP) – will not sign the agreement, but will support it in the parliament and will also participate in the government. The signing of the agreement was the necessary prerequisite for scheduling a parliamentary session.

The opposition parties will get five ministerial seats along with several deputy-ministerial positions. They should also get control of several key public institutions and companies, including the employment agency, the Investment Development Fund, and the tax and customs authorities.

Immediately after signing the agreement to join the government, URA and Demos, together with SNP, inked another agreement, promising that they will not form coalitions with the DPS at any stage neither before, nor after the elections. SDP did not sign this agreement.

“This agreement is open to all [opposition parties]. I do not exclude the option for SDP to sign it at some point,” CDM quoted URA’s leader Zarko Rakcevic as saying at a press conference in Podgorica.

Meanwhile, the parties disagreed over whether Pozitivna Crna Gora, which is supposed to get one ministerial seat, should enter the government from the quota of the opposition.

“As far as we are concerned, Pozitivna is not opposition and will not enter the opposition’s quota,” Rakcevic said.

On the other hand, Pozitivna Crna Gora claims that, despite supporting the government in a vote of condfidence in January, it belongs to the opposition.

“It is absurd and is politically irresponsible to continue with further evaluations and ultimatums. The desire and intention of part of the opposition and the ruling SDP to seize for themselves as many functions as possible is obvious and they already trade them publicly,” CDM quoted Goran Tuponja of Pozitivna Crna Gora as saying.

In January, Djukanovic invited opposition parties to join the government in his concluding speech during a three-day debate on a confidence vote, requested by the cabinet. The idea originally was proposed by Pozitivna Crna Gora. Djukanovic then said that he was ready to provide opportunities for representatives of the opposition to take ministerial and deputy-ministerial positions in key ministries, with the aim of ensuring transparency during the general election in autumn 2016.

Following the confidence vote, won by Djukanovic, the DPS and representatives of almost all opposition parties in the parliament initiated a series of meetings to discuss the proposal. The only party that refused to participate was the Democratic Front (DF), which has boycotted the work of the parliament since September and also refused to participate in the confidence vote. The talks failed in February, but were resumed with some opposition parties a month later.

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