Montenegro reshuffles cabinet, parliament speaker replaced

Thu 19 May 2016

Montenegro reshuffles cabinet, parliament speaker replaced

On 19 May the parliament approved a new government with almost two-third of the votes. The new government consists of members from Prime Minister Djukanovic's Democratic Party of Socialist (DPS), Bosniak, Albanian and Croatioan minority parties and three opposition parties.

Election agreement
As part of an agreement the parliament also voted for five new opposition names in the government. The strongest opposition alliance, the pro-Serbian Democratic Party, refused to join the government and voted against the new cabinet. According to the agreement, the opposition will receive ministerial posts in the Ministry of Finance, Ministry of Interior, Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare and the Ministry of Agriculture, a deputy prime minister’s post, as well as posts of assistants with special powers in the ministries of health and education. Also they will control state institutions such as the investment agency, pension fund and tax office. Handing these to the opposition is intended as a commitment to financial transparency. Together with this deal, the opposition will return to government until the elections are over. This agreement was backed by the opposition Demos, SDP and URA parties. However, the opposition Democratic Front (DF) and the Socialist People's Party, did not support the legislation. DF wants PM Djukanovic to resign, while the Socialists did not get the posts they wanted.

Dismissal of parliament speaker
The parliament also voted to remove parliament speaker Ranko Krivokapic. The motion to remove Krivokapic was already submitted in February and a majority of the ruling coalition party and the opposition Positive party voted in favour of a dismissal. Until January Krivokapic was an ally of president Djukanovic (DPS), but ended Krivokapic’s Social Democratic Party (SDP) backed the failed no-confidence vote of the president. After this vote Krivokapic joined two opposition parties in EU-mediated negotiations on creating credible elections.

Free and fair elections are also part of Montenegro’s accession process to the EU. Montenegro opened in 2011 accession talks with the EU but needs to fight corruption and show its electoral process is transparent and fair to see further progress. Today Montenegro will sign the NATO accession agreement to open the door on becoming the 29th member. After Albania and Croatia, Montenegro is the third Western-Balkan country to join NATO. Despite signing the accession agreement, it does not mean they will automatically become a member. In Montenegro this is a very controversial issue and the parties are divided over it. Probably this will be a big issue in the election campaigns and it is possible a national referendum will be organized.
Sources: Balkaninsight1, Balkaninsight2, CDM, Reuters, RFE/RL, BBC