Filip Vujanovic with his
wife Svetlana

Vujanovic becomes Montenegro's first president since the Yugoslav federation was transformed in February, under European Union pressure, into a loose union of its two remaining constituent republics, Serbia and Montenegro.

 

His task, considered delicate, is expected to be to preserve Montenegro's goal of eventual independence from Serbia without provoking the ire of the European Union. He is also expected to support reforms aimed at preparing Montenegro's eventual integration, as an independent state, into the European Union.

 

"I'll be the president of all citizens, who will lead Montenegro towards the European Union," Vujanovic said after winning the presidential election, adding his priorities would include economic and social reforms.

  

Vujanovic says he favours breaking away from much larger Serbia but that his party will give the new union a chance. Each republic has the right to hold an independence referendum after three years.

 

The candidate of the ruling coalition of Prime Minister Milo Djukanovic, Vujanovic won the support of more than 63 percent of those who voted, the Centre for Monitoring Elections (CEMI) said.

 

A Montenegrin rally ahead of polls

CEMI said the turnout was 48 percent. Miodrag Zivkovic, of the Liberal Alliance of Montenegro, won 31 percent of the vote while the independent Dragan Hajdukovic received four percent.

   

Vujanovic was prime minister from 1998 until October 2002 when he stepped aside to let Djukanovic, who was then president, take the more influential post after the latter led his party to victory in parliamentary elections.

 

Surprising weakness

   

Analysts said that although Vujanovic won less support than in his previous two unsuccessful bids for the presidency, the weakness of the opposition was more surprising.

   

"Zivkovic's result showed that though citizens expressed less trust in the authorities, their confidence in the opposition parties was even less," Miodrag Vlahovic, the head of Podgorica's Institute for Strategic Studies, said.

   

Vujanovic won most of the votes in presidential elections in December and February, both declared void when the voter turnout failed to reach the quorum of 50 percent. The tiny Balkan republic scrapped the turnout rule in February.

   

Father-of-three Vujanovic, 48, a lawyer, has also previously held the posts of justice minister and interior minister.