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Montenegro Names Close Djukanovic Ally As New Prime Minister

Montenegro's outgoing Prime Minister Milo Djukanovic (center), with close ally Dusko Markovic (left), who was named to succeed him

Montenegro's president has named a former head of intelligence as the prime minister-designate who will try to form a new government.

Dusko Markovic 58, is also the deputy leader of the ruling Democratic Party of Socialists and one of the most trusted allies of Milo Djukanovic, the outgoing prime minister and longtime leader of the party.

The party emerged as the single strongest party in Montenegro's 81-seat parliament after elections on October 16, but it lost its majority.

It is now seeking an alliance with the Social Democrats and other parties that represent national minorities, which would give it a majority of only two seats.

The major opposition parties rejected holding any talks with Djukanovic, whom they accuse of corruption and authoritarianism during his 25 years at the helm of government.

In a statement, President Filip Vujanovic indicated that Markovic would follow many of Djukanovic's pro-Western policies.

He "will be devoted to [European] integration and economic prosperity," Vujanovic said. Montenegro hopes to join both NATO and the European Union.

Commenting on Markovic's appointment, Russian President Vladimir Putin said he hoped that Montenegro would pursue a "balanced foreign policy" and maintain ties with Moscow.

Based on reporting by AP and Reuters