Montenegro’s President Filip Vujanovic has won a third term in office, the electoral commission has said, despite opposition claims that their candidate was the winner.
Vujanovic won 51.21 percent of the votes compared with Miodrag Lekic’s 48.79 percent, commission chairman Ivan Kalezic told reporters on Monday.
Both candidates had claimed victory in the election for the largely ceremonial presidential post, and opposition members said they would not recognise Vujanovic’s victory in Sunday’s ballot, even if confirmed by the official election commission.
Lekic, who has managed to get Montenegro’s main opposition groups to overcome their bickering and back his candidacy, cited “indications of fraud” and urged Vujanovic to “be serious and responsible”.
But the commission said no major irregularities were reported during Sunday’s election, adding that voter turnout was 63.9 percent.
Europe’s top security grouping, the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe, said the poll “generally met OSCE commitments”.
The presidential election was the country’s second since it proclaimed independence from Serbia in 2006.
Drazen Medojevic, an opposition representative in the election commission, said Lekic’s camp “has disputed in full the election results and filed a request for a recount in all Montenegrin municipalities”.
“We cannot accept the results until we determine all the irregularities,” Medojevic said. They include alleged irregularities with invalid ballots and voting by mail, he said.
Vujanovic is a close ally of Montenegro’s powerful prime minister, Milo Djukanovic, and a strong advocate of Montenegro’s accession into the European Union and NATO.
Montenegro, a nation of more than 600,000 people, is striving to join the European Union and opened entry talks last year. Any political instability in the country could slow the legislative and other reforms often required as a condition for membership in the regional bloc.
The tight election results also are a blow to the long-serving governing coalition led by the left-leaning Democratic Party of Socialists, which has been in power for more than two decades. Lekic’s strong election result amounted to the first serious challenge to the ruling party’s grip on power.
Lekic has accused the government of widespread corruption and crime.