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Montenegrin incumbent president declares re-election victory

Montenegro's incumbent President Filip Vujanovic declared re-election victory Sunday in the tiny republic's first election of its independence.

“We won, we won for all of us, for our Montenegro, for our better future,” Vujanovic told supporters of the ruling Democratic Party of Socialists (DPS) at a celebration rally in the capital Podgorica.

“I'll be a president for all citizens of Montenegro. We'll work together on Montenegro's European road, so that Montenegro belongs to the European Union,” the 53-year-old Vujanovic said.

According to polls monitor Center for Democratic Transition, Vujanovic won some 51.4% of the votes, well above the 50% threshold to deny a possible second round two weeks later.
Andrija Mandic, who represents pro-Serb parties, has secure 20.4% of votes while the liberal candidate Nebojsa Medojevic has 15.7% for the third place. The last candidate Srdjan Milic of the center-left Socialist People's Party got some 12.5% of the votes.

Official results are expected on Tuesday, but election monitors said that Vujanovic's victory was unshakable.

Montenegro's president serves a five-year term for a largely ceremonial role.

The election reinforces the independence of the tiny Adriatic country of some 650,000 people. It also was a test for Vujanovic's DPS, which was plagued by infighting within the party after having virtually unchallenged in the Balkan republic since 1990.

Turnout was some 69%, about 22 percentage points higher than in 2003, when Vujanovic won his first five-year term, according to estimates of election monitors.

Vujanovic's supporters celebrated his victory with huge fireworks in the capital Podgorica. Some supporters honked their car horns and waved Montenegro's red flags with a golden eagle in downtown Podgorica.

The election is held at the backdrop of the regional tension caused by Kosovo's unilateral declaring of independence on February 17.

Unlike its fellow former Yugoslav republics Croatia and Slovenia, the Montenegrin government has yet to recognize Kosovo, a Serbian southern province dominated by ethnic Albanians.

Although ethnic Albanian minority makes up some 7% of its population, Montenegro is more wary of enraging ethnic Serbs who make up some 30% of its 650,000 population.

(BBJ 7.iv.08)