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Montenegro: Parliamentary Vote Extremely Close

Podgorica, Yugoslavia; 23 April 2001 (RFE/RL) -- Montenegro's election commission has confirmed that the ruling, pro-independence coalition did not get enough votes in yesterday's parliamentary elections to form a government on its own. The commission has counted nearly 99 percent of the ballots, and President Milo Djukanovic's Victory for Montenegro coalition is ahead of the anti-independence bloc by a little more than 1 percent.

The commission said Djukanovic's coalition won 42 percent of the vote and will get 35 seats in the 77-member parliament. The group Together for Yugoslavia finished about 5,000 votes behind and will get 33 seats. The commission said the Liberal Alliance finished third with 7.65 percent of the vote.

Close to 450,000 people were eligible to vote, and nearly 81 percent cast ballots. The commission said voting must be repeated at some polling stations and the final result will be announced on Thursday.

Yugoslav and Serbian ministers said today that the elections in Montenegro reveal that the population is too evenly divided on independence to put the question to a vote.

Montenegrin President Milo Djukanovic said he wants to build a government committed to an independent state.

But Yugoslav Interior Minister Zoran Zivkovic said today that half of the electorate favors independence and the other half wants to keep Montenegro within the Yugoslav federal state.

Serbian Deputy Prime Minister Zarko Korac told the daily "Politika" that yesterday's election shows there is no basis to hold a referendum on independence.

Yugoslav parliament speaker Dragoljub Micunovic said the divisiveness means that it would be dangerous to hold a referendum.