PODGORICA, Montenegro – The Latest on Montenegro’s presidential election (all times local):
Preliminary projections by independent monitors in Montenegro’s presidential election have shown that ruling-party leader Milo Djukanovic has swept the vote, avoiding a runoff.
The Center for Monitoring and Research said Sunday after counting over 60 percent of the votes that Djukanovic won about 53 percent while his main opponent Mladen Bojanic won 34 percent.
If confirmed, the result will present a major boost for Djukanovic, who defied Russia to take his country into NATO last year.
Voters in Montenegro are casting ballots in a presidential election, with former Prime Minister Milo Djukanovic expected to win after his party defied Russia and took the small Balkan nation into NATO last year.
The vote Sunday is the first since Montenegro joined the Western military alliance in December. It’s seen as a test for Djukanovic, who favors European integration over closer ties to traditional ally Moscow.
Djukanovic, the country’s dominant politician, and his Democratic Party of Socialists have ruled Montenegro for nearly 30 years. President Filip Vujanovic is not running due to term limits.
About 530,000 voters can choose among several candidates. Djukanovic’s main challenger is Mladen Bojanic, backed by several opposition groups, including pro-Russian ones.
Polls suggest Djukanovic could win more than half of the votes and avoid a runoff.