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Politics

Montenegro appoints long-time politician prime minister

Montenegro's president has tapped long-time politician Milo Djukanovic to head the country's newly elected government. Djukanovic has already served several terms as prime minister and president.

After several weeks of speculation surrounding who would head Montenegro's government, the country's president, Filip Vujanovic, announced on Friday that he had selected Montenegro's most prominent politician in recent history, Milo Djukanovic, for the role.

"I have always favored the option of the government being led by a strong political figure who will take the country out of problems," President Vujanovic told reporters in the capital city, Podgorica, on Friday. He planned to make a formal announcement to parliament later in the day.

Djukanovic, currently the leader of the Democratic Party of Socialists (DPS) has already served five terms as prime minister in the Balkan country. Two years ago, Djukanovic stepped down as prime minister, handing power to his hand-picked successor, Igor Luksic. Djukanovic has also served as president of Montenegro.

Last month, his party, the DPS, won parliamentary elections, but not an outright majority. They then signed a deal with ethnic minority parties several days ago.

The new prime minister has regained a powerful role during a period of economic uncertainty in Montenegro. His cabinet must face the task of reforming the legal system to more effectively combat corruption as part of membership negotiations with the European Union.

The recent elections took place half a year ahead of schedule, as the DPS sought a fresh mandate after the European Union agreed in June to open accession talks with Montenegro.

The long-time leader has held a dominant place in politics since the collapse of the former Yugoslavia in the early 1990s. Before helping steer Montenegro toward independence in 2006, he was known for his support of former Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic.

Djukanovic has been accused of corruption in the past, particularly in large-scale cigarette smuggling in the 1990s before the former Yugoslavia collapsed.

kms/rc (AP, Reuters, dpa)