Anti-Government Rallies Spread in Montenegro

news
05 Oct 15
Anti-Government Rallies Spread in Montenegro

Anti-government demonstrations will continue on Monday in 15 towns, although police said that the opposition had no permission to hold protests outside the capital.

Dusica Tomovic
BIRN
Podgorica

The opposition said the protests will not stop until all requirements are met | Photo: BIRN

The Montenegrin opposition announced new rallies for several major towns on Monday while thousands of anti-government protesters continued demonstrations in the capital, Podgorica, calling for the government to resign.

The main opposition alliance, the Democratic Front, launched 24-hour protests in Podgorica on September 27, demanding the resignation of the Prime Minister, Milo Djukanovic and the creation of an interim government to organise what they say would be Montenegro’s “first ever free and fair elections”.

The alliance said that the protests in front of the parliament building will not stop until all their demands are met, accusing the governmnet of corruption, undemocratic practices and election fraud.

The government said it would not bow to opposition protests, calling its demands “unconstitutional and undemocratic”.


Anti-government protestors set up dozens of tents in a park opposite the parliament building for protesters to spend the night in until the next day rally | Photo:BIRN.

Starting from Monday, daily protests will continue in the 15 largest municipalities in the country in which Djukanovic’s Democratic Party of Socialists, DPS, holds a majority of seats in the local assemblies.

The Interior Ministry on Sunday said the opposition had permission to protest for another week in Podgorica, but had no approval to stage rallies in other towns, as its applications were incomplete and were submitted in less than five days, as the Law on Public Gathering requires.

However, the opposition leaders said they would protest in 15 municipalities no matter what the police said.


Protesters in Podgorica | Photo:BIRN.

One of the opposition leaders, Nebojsa Medojevic, told BIRN on Sunday that the number of people who supported their demands was growing, which is why they decided to extend the demonstrations to other towns in northern and coastal regions.

“We will gather in towns where there is already evidence of election fraud and political corruption, where we can repeat the same demands – early local elections,” Medojevic said.

“This is just the beginning because the protests have begun to live as an autonomous political entity. The energy exists, and this battle can only be won with tenacity and perseverance,” he added.


Protesters in Podgorica | Photo: BIRN.

Meanwhile, several civic organizations and student associations from the towns of Niksic and Bar joined the protests in Podgorica.

On Sunday, the leading bishop of the Serbian Orthodox Church in Montenegro, Amfilohije, who arrived with several priests, addresed the anti-government protests in Podgorica.

Bishop Amfilohije said that he was not interfering in political and public matters but cared about the “soul of the people and their freedom.

“There’s no reason for the police to be here,” he said. “These people are the people of freedom…and they want to build a future on that freedom,” Amfilohije said.


Bishop Amfilohije with the opposition leaders in Podgorica | Photo: Twitter.

Security measures in Podgorica are tight and barricades have been set up around the parliament amid fears that the demonstration could turn violent. But the daily rallies have passed off peacefully so far and there have been no arrests or scuffles.

The government said that the deployment of the police to secure the rally in Podgorica was costing an additional 40,000 euro per day, however.

Djukanovic has been in power since 1991 while the current coalition government was formed after the 2012 elections. The next general election is not due until spring next year.

Source: Balkan Insight (Montenegro)