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Montenegrin President Rejects Changes To Prosecution Law In New Standoff With Government

Montenegrin President Milo Đukanovic (file photo)
Montenegrin President Milo Đukanovic (file photo)

PODGORICA – Montenegrin President Milo Djukanovic has warned that he will not sign changes to the law governing prosecution appointments that were earlier adopted by parliament, in the latest clash between the head of state and the government that took office last year.

"Today, I will return the law for a new vote in parliament," Djukanovic told a press conference on May 19, saying that the amendments would endanger the constitutional and legal system of Montenegro.

"Fundamental democratic principles and Montenegro"s partnership with the European Union are being destroyed," he added.

Parliament speaker Aleksa Becic called Djukanovic's move "political obstruction."

Under Montenegro’s constitution, the president can send a bill back to parliament to be reconsidered but is obliged to sign it if parliament adopts it again.

Lawmakers on May 12 adopted amendments to the Law on the State Prosecution Service despite concerns raised by the Council of Europe’s Venice Commission of constitutional experts, who warned that the changes could make prosecutors more susceptible to political influence.

Djukanovic’s Democratic Party of Socialists (DPS), the main opposition party in parliament, has boycotted the work of the chamber in protest.

Proponents of the amendments argue that a change in personnel in the Prosecutor's Office is necessary in order to achieve results in the fight against corruption and organized crime.

The DPS was ousted from power by a coalition led by the Democratic Front following parliamentary elections in August 2020.

The president already confronted the new governing coalition in January when he rejected bills adopted by parliament, including amendments to a controversial law on religion.

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