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Montenegro legislature accused of ‘treason’

The president’s supporters rioted outside parliament after a controversial vote

Dozens of people supporting Montenegrin President Milo Djukanovic threw rocks, bottles and flares at riot police in Podgorica on Monday, accusing the parliamentary majority of “treason” for amending the law on presidential powers.

Protesters had blocked several intersections in Montenegro’s capital since noon, in a bid to deter the parliament from voting. When the lawmakers began leaving the building around 6pm local time, several of the demonstrators began hurling objects at the police and tearing down the fences set up to contain them.

The calls of “Treason!” and “E viva Montenegro!” as well as personal insults aimed at PM Dritan Abazovic could be heard, Serbian newspaper Vecernje Novosti reported. The protesters also called the police “Serbs.”

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According to multiple media outlets, the rioters used rocks, bottles and road flares to attack the police. The authorities responded by declaring an illegal assembly and giving an order to disperse, after which the police used pepper spray and flash-bang grenades. 

The proposal they were rioting against would amend the Balkan country’s laws governing presidential powers. According to the amendments, first passed a month ago, whoever has “clear support” of the parliamentary majority can become PM even if not nominated to the post by the president. 

Critics say it is aimed against Djukanovic, who has run Montenegro since the early 1990s in one capacity or another and oversaw its separation from a union with Serbia in 2006. His party lost the parliamentary majority in 2020, however, and the current coalition government is headed by Abazovic, the country’s first ethnic Albanian PM. 

The 81-member parliament had adopted the law in November, with 41 in favor and Djukanovic’s lawmakers boycotting the vote. The president sent it back, claiming it violated the separation of powers and endangered the constitutional order. Monday’s vote saw the same law adopted with the same margin, with Djukanovic’s party and two allies again boycotting the session.

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December 13, 2022 at 01:27AM
RT

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