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In Return As Montenegro's President, Djukanovic Pledges Stability


Milo Djukanovic won nearly 54 percent of the vote, avoiding a runoff and extending his almost-three-decade-long dominance of Montenegro's politics.

PODGORICA -- Milo Djukanovic has been inaugurated as Montenegro's president for a second term, returning to a post he held from 1998 until 2002.

"Montenegro has become the most economically developed country in the Western Balkans, the leader of reforms and negotiations with the European Union, and certainly the first next member of that alliance," Djukanovic said on May 20 after taking the oath in parliament.

Djukanovic, 56, won nearly 54 percent of the vote in the March 15 presidential election, avoiding a runoff and extending his almost-three-decade-long dominance of Montenegro's politics.

A former communist, Djukanovic became Europe's youngest prime minister in 1991 at the age of 29.

Yugoslavia collapsed the same year, but Djukanovic remained a close ally of rump Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic until beginning to cut his own path in 1998, eventually leading Montenegro into independence from Serbia in 2006.

He has since pushed the tiny country of only about 640,000 people through sometimes painful economic times and toward European integration, highlighted by the 2017 accession into NATO.

"Montenegro's future will be stable and promising as long as it is based on a broad spectrum of economic capacities that utilize comparative advantages of this area, up-to-date technological achievements, and high-quality knowledge among Montenegro's new generations," he said.

But it hasn't always been smooth sailing.

Djukanovic has been dogged by opposition accusations that he fosters cronyism and corruption. Some reports allege he and his family are the country's biggest tycoons.

He came under investigation and was indicted by prosecutors in the Italian city of Bari in 2008 for alleged tobacco smuggling. The probe was later dropped given Djukanovic's diplomatic immunity.

According to the International Consortium of Investigative Reporters (ICIJ), Djukanovic has amassed assets worth millions of dollars, while his family members are said to be worth tens of millions of dollars.

How they accumulated their wealth, the ICIJ says, is unclear.

With reporting by dpa
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