The Latest: Djukanovic says election win ‘important victory’

April 15, 2018
In this photo taken on Thursday, April 12, 2018, a woman walks past a billboard showing Montenegro's long-time leader Milo Djukanovic, in Montenegro's capital Podgorica. Djukanovic is seeking a new term as president at the election this weekend after defying Russia to lead the small Balkan country into NATO last year. (AP Photo/Risto Bozovic)

PODGORICA, Montenegro (AP) — The Latest on Montenegro’s presidential election (all times local):

10:55 p.m.

The apparent winner of Montenegro’s presidential election says his triumph means Montenegro will stay on a path toward joining the European Union.

Milo Djukanovic said Sunday that his victory in the presidential election marks “another important victory for (Montenegro’s) European future.”

Djukanovic says he sees the election results “primarily as the confirmation of Montenegro’s strong determination to continue on the European road.”

The 56-year-old Djukanovic and his party have ruled Montenegro for nearly 30 years, leading the country to independence from Serbia and into NATO despite strong opposition from traditional ally Russia.

A preliminary vote count has shown that Djukanovic won 54 percent of the votes, securing an outright victory and avoiding a runoff.


10:15 p.m.

The opposition challenger in Montenegro’s presidential election says he’ll continue his struggle against the ruling party and its leader Milo Djukanovic, who swept the presidential election.

Mladen Bojanic says he won’t congratulate Djukanovic. He says Djukanovic’s victory in Sunday’s election was the result of “blackmail and pressure.” He also says he’s proud of winning as many votes as he did: about 33 percent of the ballots, compared to Djukanovic’s 54 percent.

Bojanic was backed by several opposition groups, including pro-Russian ones. They have accused Djukanovic of autocratic rule.

Bojanic says his opponent “is the man holding Montenegro and its institutions hostage,” and he says he’ll “continue to fight to free Montenegro of Djukanovic and his dictatorship.”

Bojanic appealed to opposition voters not “to view this as a defeat but as a basis for further struggle.”


9:45 p.m.

Montenegro’s ruling Democratic Party of Socialists has declared party leader Milo Djukanovic the winner of the presidential election.

Party official Milos Nikolic said Sunday that “Milo Djukanovic is the new president of Montenegro.” He added that “this is a great victory, a historic victory.”

After counting nearly 90 percent of the ballots, the independent Center for Monitoring and Research say Djukanovic won about 53 percent of the vote while his main opponent, Mladen Bojanic, won 33 percent.

Djukanovic won a large enough percentage to avoid a runoff.

The victory is a major boost for Djukanovic, who defied Russia to take his country into NATO last year.


9:05 p.m.

Preliminary projections by independent monitors in Montenegro’s presidential election have shown that ruling-party leader Milo Djukanovic has swept the vote, avoiding a runoff.

The Center for Monitoring and Research said Sunday after counting over 60 percent of the votes that Djukanovic won about 53 percent while his main opponent Mladen Bojanic won 34 percent.

If confirmed, the result will present a major boost for Djukanovic, who defied Russia to take his country into NATO last year.


8:30 a.m.

Voters in Montenegro are casting ballots in a presidential election, with former Prime Minister Milo Djukanovic expected to win after his party defied Russia and took the small Balkan nation into NATO last year.

The vote Sunday is the first since Montenegro joined the Western military alliance in December. It’s seen as a test for Djukanovic, who favors European integration over closer ties to traditional ally Moscow.

Djukanovic, the country’s dominant politician, and his Democratic Party of Socialists have ruled Montenegro for nearly 30 years. President Filip Vujanovic is not running due to term limits.

About 530,000 voters can choose among several candidates. Djukanovic’s main challenger is Mladen Bojanic, backed by several opposition groups, including pro-Russian ones.

Polls suggest Djukanovic could win more than half of the votes and avoid a runoff.