One senior police officer was seriously injured while five others suffered light injuries at a protest on October 18, organised by the opposition Democratic Front (DF) in the country's capital Podgorica, Montenegro’s government reported on its website.
The Democratic Front started a series of anti-government protests on September 27, and placed tents in front of the parliament. The protests had been peaceful, with several thousand participants marching daily and dozens of protesters staying in the tents from the beginning.
However, according to the government’s statement, the participants in the October 18 public gathering threw stones, burning torches, bottles, metal and other objects at police officers in an attempt to break through the police cordon and protective fence near the parliament building and government headquarters. Several buildings and vehicles in the city centre, including the headquarters of private broadcaster PINK M TV, were also damaged. Police detained several people suspected of causing property damage.
The leadership of the Democratic Front claimed that the violence was provoked by hooligans sent by the government.
“[The police officer] was severely injured while protecting the police exactly from those hooligans that were having the task to provoke riots aiming at presenting the peaceful protests as destructive ones,” news service CDM quoted Democratic Front leadership as saying in a statement.
The Democratic Front, which wants the resignation of the current government, the appointment of an interim cabinet and early elections, is a coalition between New Serb Democracy (NOVA), Movement for Changes (PzP) and the Democratic Party of Unity (DSJ), led by former diplomat Miodrag Lekic. Its main goal is the removal of the ruling Democratic Party of Socialists of Montenegro (DPS) of Milo Djukanovic, which has been in power since 1991.
The EU delegation to Montenegro issued a statement on October 19 calling on all concerned parties to respect the law.
“We expect all concerned to show restraint and respect the law. In particular, we call on all political actors to proceed with a constructive dialogue within democratic institutions and processes,” the EU delegation said in a statement.
Democratic Front has called on all opposition parties to join the protests. Its MPs left parliament at the beginning of the protests and have refused any dialogue since then.