AKI - May 25, 2006

Podgorica, 25 May (AKI) - The 'unionist bloc', which voted against Montenegro independence in Sunday's referendum, said on Thursday that it has lodged 241 complaints to municipal referendum commissions, claiming irregularities in the voting. A bloc leader Predrag Popovic said that the number of voters at contested polling places amounted to 120,000 and that it could change the final outcome of the referendum in which, according to preliminary results, "independists", led by Prime Minister Milo Djukanovic won 55.5 per cent of votes.

Popovic said the municipal referendum commissions have to rule on the complaints by nine o’clock today, after which the complaints go to republican referendum commission, chaired by Czech diplomat Frantisek Lipka.

The president of Podgorica municipal referendum commission Cedo Kaludjerovic said that 50 complaints were lodged in the capital itself, comprising 30,000 voters.

He said that the complaints were justified, but that the municipal commission would most likely not be able to reach a consensus decision, because both blocs are equally represented in the body. In such a case, complaints would go to republican commission in which Lipka’s voice would prevail.

The "unionists" have complained of irregularities mostly in ethnic Albanian populated areas, saying many voters came from abroad and voted illegally with false documents.

They also presented a list of 2,671 independence supporters, who reside in Serbia, but who voted in the referendum. Montenegro's election law banned some 300,000 Montenegrins living in Serbia from voting, suspecting they would oppose independence.

Another "unionist" leader, Predrag Bulatovic, said he had asked the European Union representative at the referendum, Slovak diplomat Miroslav Lajcak, to intervene, because in many municipalities the "unionists" were denied access to electoral lists to determine irregularities. In ethnic Albanian town of Rozaje, where "unionists" claim gross violation, president of the local referendum went abroad and was unavailable, said Bulatovic.

"I appeal to you to intervene and make possible to our bloc to realize its right to check the election material, before things take undesirable turn," Bulatovic told Lajcak on Wednesday. "In case we don’t realize these rights, I’m afraid it might have negative effects on further developments in Montenegro," he warned.

Lajcak on Wednesday accused the "unionists" of "irresponsible behaviour" for insisting on irregularities. Lipka has to proclaim final official results on Tuesday, after which the unsatisfied party can appeal to Montenegro Constitutional court. But Popovic said they would not take that step, because there was no point appealing to the court controlled by Djukanovic. (Vpr/Aki)

Copyright 2006 AKI
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