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Montenegro Holds First General Elections --> Prime Minister Milo Djukanovic (file photo) (epa) September 10, 2006 -- Montenegrins voted in their first general election today since gaining independence three months ago.

In the first five hours of polling, close to 34 percent of the country's eligible voters cast their ballots.

The center-left coalition of Prime Minister Milo Djukanovic is favored to win the most seats in the 81-seat parliament. Djukanovic said he expected an "absolute victory."

Polling stations are due to remain open until 8 p.m. local time. Preliminary results are expected overnight.

The vote is important because Montenegro's next parliament is to draft and pass a constitution defining the newly independent country's future goals.

Montenegro voted in May to end nearly a century of partnership with Serbia.

(AFP, Reuters, AP)

Universal Principles?

President Putin at a Kremlin meeting in April (epa)

PUTIN SPEAKS OUT: During a January press conference, Russian President Vladimir Putin said there is a need for "universal principles" to settle "frozen" conflicts in the CIS. His comments came against the background of impending talks on the future status of Kosovo, which many predict will grant it a form of "conditional independence" from Serbia and Montenegro. As an ally of Serbia, Moscow has consistently opposed the idea of Kosovar independence. Putin's remarks suggest he may be shifting his position, but only if the principles applied to Kosovo are also applied to frozen conflicts in the former Soviet Union. If Kosovo can be granted full independence, he asked, why should we deny the same to Abkhazia and South Ossetia? (more)


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