18 May 15
Montenegro Urged to Regulate Non-Resident Voters
The Montenegrin opposition demanded that tens of thousands of people be removed from the electoral roll before the next elections because they have been living abroad for too many years.
The main opposition alliance, the Democratic Front, urged the government on Monday to delete more than 70,000 voters from the central electoral roll because it said they could not prove that they have resided in the country continuously for the past two years.
With the general elections due in spring 2016 at the latest, the Democratic Front accused the government of refusing to “clear up the central voters list” and determine how many out of a total of 500,000 registered have been living abroad for years.
Under the constitution adopted in 2007, the main requirement for registration as a voter at general and presidential elections, apart from Montenegrin citizenship, is permanent residence in the country for at least 24 montths.
The ruling majority in Montenegro’s parliament recently rejected an opposition motion to change the law governing the permanent and temporary residence register.
Democratic Front official Milutin Djukanovic said the government was relying on foreign-based voters for support.
“By refusing to discuss amendments to the register of residence, the parliamentary majority once again showed that the government does not want to give up on this ‘reservoir of votes’,” Djukanovic was quoted as saying by newspaper Dan.
For years, the opposition and number of local watchdogs have been alleging serious electoral abuses by the ruling coalition, led by Prime Minister Milo Djukanovic, because no regulation has been adopt to specify that citizens who have been living abroad for more than 30 years may lose their residency permit.
Montenegro does not allow dual citizenship but the government has never announced whether some people on the electoral roll are actually citizens of another state as well as Montenegro.
The opposition has also raised once again the question of what it calls “double standards” regarding around 300,000 Montenegrin citizens living in Serbia.
Since the referendum on independence in 2006, they have not been allowed to vote in Montenegro because they did not meet the residential condition.
Source: Balkan Insight (Montenegro)