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Montenegro's Pro-Serbian Government Collapses In No-Confidence Vote

Deputy Prime Minister Dritan Abazovic, whose party voted with the opposition to bring down the government, speaks to reporters on February 4.
Deputy Prime Minister Dritan Abazovic, whose party voted with the opposition to bring down the government, speaks to reporters on February 4.

Montenegro’s parliament has approved a motion of no confidence in the government of Prime Minister Zdravko Krivokapic amid internal disputes within the coalition and between the government and parliament.

All opposition parties and a junior partner in the government, the United Reform Action (URA) movement, voted in favor of the motion against Krivokapic's government, which under the constitution will continue to serve until a new government is elected.l

The government was formed in December 2020 by the pro-Serbian Democratic Front, the Democrats, and the URA movement. Those parties won a slim parliamentary majority in elections in August 2020, removing the government of the Democratic Party of Socialists (DPS) of Milo Djukanovic after three decades in power.

Deputy Prime Minister Dritan Abazovic's URA movement joined Djukanovic's DPS and two social-democratic parties and other minority parties in supporting the no-confidence vote.

The pro-Serbian and pro-Russian Democratic Front and the Democrats called the URA movement's decision to back the no-confidence vote a "betrayal of the people's will" and "betrayal of the historic election victory over DPS."

The collapse of the government after only 14 months comes amid a political stalemate. Coalition partners were at odds over several issues, including the influence of Serbia and the Serbian Orthodox Church in Montenegro's domestic affairs.

The small Balkan country is a member of NATO and has formally requested membership in the European Union. But the political stalemate stalled the necessary political and economic reforms as Montenegrins remain divided over the choice of joining the EU or seeking closer ties with Serbia and its ally, Russia.

Abazovic offered to form a minority government of limited duration, which would unblock European integration and prepare the conditions for fair elections.

Djukanovic's DPS announced that it would support that proposal.

The Democratic Front, the Democrats, most of the ministers from Krivokapic's government, and organizations close to the Serbian Orthodox Church are fiercely opposed to the future government being elected with the support of Djukanovic's party.

They prefer a government in which they would participate and that would prepare for elections. They have recently organized protests in several Montenegrin cities against the URA and Abazovic.

The Serbian Orthodox Church also issued a request to preserve the "victory from the previous elections" and not to enter into political arrangements with the parties of the former government.

Djukanovic led Montenegro to independence from Serbia in 2006 and defied pro-Russian voices to guide the country into NATO in 2017.

With reporting by AP