Skirmish in Montenegro parliament delays vote on power sharing deal

Skirmish in Montenegro parliament delays vote on power sharing deal
A parliament session was abandoned after opposition MPs heckled PM Djukanovic and tried to start fight.
By Denitsa Koseva in Sofia May 14, 2016

A vote on special legislation enabling the opposition to join the government was put on hold on May 13 after MPs from the opposition Democratic Front (DF) shouted down Prime Minister Milo Djukanovic when he started to deliver his speech to the parliament.

It is unclear when the parliament will resume the session. The latest delay in finalising the appointment of several ministers from opposition parties further escalates the political tension in Montenegro, which was expected to ease after the appointments went ahead.

Footage from broadcaster RTCG shows all the DF MPs standing up and yelling “Milo, thief!” as the prime minister began his speech to present the nominations for ministers.

Djukanovic replied “Well done, morons!” The video ends after Djukanovic’s reply, but RTCG reported that DF MPs then tried to start a fight with Djukanovic.

On April 26, representatives of opposition parties signed a long-expected agreement with Djukanovic's Democratic Party of Socialists (DPS). Under the deal, the opposition will get five ministerial seats.

The agreement is expected to bring political stability in Montenegro ahead of the general election this autumn, 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. However, the planned debate and vote on the legislation have been repeatedly delayed.

On May 9, the parliament started a session that was due to end in a vote on the legislation. The session was put on hold on May 11 and May 12 due to a disagreement between Djukanovic and three opposition parties on their nomination for agriculture minister. Late on May 12 all parties found a compromise and the session was resumed the following day.

DF has boycotted the parliament’s work since last autumn, when it started a series of anti-government protests. It comprises three opposition parties: the New Serb Democracy (NOVA), Movement for Changes (PzP) and Democratic Party of Unity (DSJ) and was created with the main goal of overthrowing Djukanovic’s ruling DPS.

The DF MPs eventually returned to parliament for the debate on changes to the government, but have provoked several conflicts since then.

DF has also proposed to all opposition parties to form an interim government without the participation of the DPS. So far, the proposal has not been discussed.

The deal will see three opposition parties - the DPS’s former coalition partner the Social Democratic Party (SDP), United Reform Action (URA) and Demos - enter the government. The Socialist People’s Party (SNP), which was originally part of the deal, eventually decided to give up entering the government.

Under the deal between Djukanovic and the opposition, independent Milorad Vujovic - who was originally proposed for the agriculture minister post - will become deputy prime minister, Demos leader Goran Danilovic, has been proposed to head the internal affairs ministry, SDP member Rasko Konjevic will become finance minister and Boris Maric, who was proposed by URA, will be in charge of the social affairs ministry. Another independent candidate, economist Milenko Popovic was the compromise choice for agriculture minister.

Another party emerged as the loser from the deal. Pozitivna Crna Gora, which initially proposed the idea for opposition’s entry to the government, will not have a minister. The party backed Djukanovic on a confidence vote in January and was seen as possible new ally to replace DPS’s long-term partner, the SDP. Due to its support for the government, the other opposition parties claimed that Pozitivna Crna Gora was not opposition anymore and insisted that, if its representative enters the government, it should not be part of their list. Pozitivna Crna Gora did not insist on getting a ministerial seat.