Montenegro's ex-economy minister Milatovic declares victory in presidential run-off

Montenegro's former minister of economic development Jakov Milatovic won the country's presidential runoff Sunday by securing 58.9% of vote, according to preliminary results, News.Az reports citing Anadolu Agency. 

The 36-year-old beat long-serving incumbent President Milo Djukanovic, who got 41.1%.

Milatovic is from the newly-formed Europe Now group, which vowed to raise living standards, strengthen relations with the European Union and improve ties with Serbia.

Milatovic in his victory speech said that tonight Montenegro took a decisive step forward and said goodbye to the outdated regime of Milo Djukanovic.

"We said goodbye to crime, corruption and their association with politics. We said good day to a successful, European Montenegro," he said.

Milatovic entered politics two years ago as economy minister in the government led by Prime Minister Zdravko Krivokapic.

His mandate was marked by the tax reform he implemented, which gained him great popularity among citizens, while the minimum wage doubled under his economic program.

Milatovic said he also had personal reasons for entering politics.

"My family experienced injustices from the Djukanovic regime. My father couldn’t find a job for years, even though he ran a large state-owned company in the early 90s. We went through a difficult family period, and it always boiled in me,'' he said.

His supporters gathered in the streets of the capital Podgorica to celebrate the victory.

The crowd chanted his name, as well as "Milo the thief."

Djukanovic meanwhile congratulated Milatovic on his victory.

"I accept this judgment of the democratic public of Montenegro. I wish Montenegro all the best, for the new president to be worthy of the trust he has received and to contribute to the further democratic and economic prosperity of our country,'' he said.

The runoff vote was scheduled after none of the contenders won a majority in the first round of voting on March 19.

According to the election commission, 375,853 of the 542,000 citizens eligible to vote took part in the ballot and the turnout rose from 62.7% in the first round to 70.4%.

Parliamentary elections in the Balkan country will be held on June 11.


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