AIM: start

SAT, 27 APR 2002 00:16:07 GMT

Vujanovic's Government Fallen

New Round of Imbroglio

Things are even less clear than before: after Vujanovic's resignation, will a new government be formed by the three sovereignty supporting parties or is the degree of mutual hatred so high that everything will end up with early parliamentary elections in which all will be losers

AIM Podgorica, April 21, 2002

On Friday, Prime Minister Filip Vujanovic returned the mandate to the President of the Republic and informed Montenegrin parliament about it. He did that about a fortnight after the Liberal League of Montenegro (LSCG) had decided to deny support to his minority cabinet which was also in the meantime left without its ministers who are members of the Social Democratic Party (SDP), the coalition partner of Vujanovic's Democratic Party of Socialists (DPS). The Prime Minister's move was expected, because the Liberals had conditioned the beginning of negotiations on the "rearrangement of executive power" by Vujanovic's resignation. This, at least formally, brought the crisis to its climax, after signing of the Belgrade Agreement on rearrangement of relations between Montenegro and Serbia, that was assessed by LSCG and SDP as detrimental for the interests of the smaller federal (confederate) unit. In his letter to Djukanovic, Vujanovic himself assessed that "an open crisis of the administration is unnecessary, because it can threaten the strategic interest of Montenegro to renew its statehood and be integrated in the EU".

Now Djukanovic and DPS are on the move. The Constitution does not prescribe a time limit for the President to nominate a mandatary. It prescribes only the possibility of the Assembly rejecting the President's candidate, and according to that provision, Djukanovic would have ten days to propose a new candidate. If within 60 days from the first nomination the government were not elected, the Assembly would automatically be dissolved and early parliamentary elections would be scheduled. Thanks to such a Constitutional provision, DPS, SDP and LSCG will have the possibility to negotiate without the burden of a deadline, which nevertheless does not mean that they have months at their disposal to do the job. The confirmation of this conclusion is the declaration of the President of SDP, Ranko Krivokapic, that conditions have been met for the beginning of the talks of the three parties next week. Faced with, for them, exceptionally bad results of the latest public opinion poll, the three parties that advocate independence of Montenegro will try, on the eve of local elections on May 15, to restore their lost positions through the agreement on a new government.

But, despite polls that show that at this moment the elections would not work into their hands, difficult and uncertain negotiations should be expected, primarily between DPS and LSCG, because SDP mostly assumed the role of a mediator in this process and does its best in order to make the so-called Montenegrin bloc united. The Liberals characterised the Belgrade Agreement as “treason, unprecedented in new European history”. They defined their condition for the continuation of cooperation as “definite disempowerment of DPS and taking over all levers of command in the government and elsewhere”. Djukanovic, however, answered that he would not agree to blackmail, and if the Liberals failed to set reasonable conditions – “see you in the elections”.

The first reactions to Vujanovic’s resignation hint that there is a possibility of agreement among parties that favour independence. Spokesman of the Liberal League, Slavko Perovic, commented that this act was “a big step forward for democratic Montenegro”, although he did not fail to say that Vujanovic’s explanation of the fall of the government as the result of pressure exerted by the Liberals – was tragicomic. Perovic confirmed that the Liberals were now ready to talk about formation of a new government, but rejected the possibility of Filip Vujanovic being its mandatary again. The spokesman of the Liberals, however, did not declare that the new prime minister had to be a candidate of his party, so doubt remained whether LSCG gave up on this demand previously emphasized as inevitable.

Director of the Transition Centre, Nebojsa Medojevic, believes that chances are small for forming of a new government by the three parties of the sovereignty bloc. The possibility of a “technical, concentration or expert government” seems more likely to him, under the direction of Brussels, with the mandate to prepare early parliamentary elections next autumn, along with presidential elections, and to enable unhindered implementation of the Agreement on redefining relations between Montenegro and Serbia. But, it is much more important that such a solution, apart from Medojevic, was on several occasions advocated by – Svetozar Marovic. There was always little doubt about the political weight of the stands of the Vice-President of DPS, but in the past few months, especially concerning the content of the Agreement, he has acquired the image of a man whose “forecasts” come true.

In the Together for Yugoslavia coalition they, indeed, believe that the problem should be resolved in early elections. Vice-President of the Socialist People’s Party (SNP), Zoran Zizic, assessed that it would be “the most equitable solution”, adding that he, nevertheless, believed more that DPS, SDP and LSCG would reach an agreement. “Early elections by the end of the year are inevitable in view of the fact that the Constitution of Montenegro, pursuant the Agreement will be amended”, Zizic is certain. President of SNS, Bozidar Bojovic, says that Vujanovic’s move is “forced, and not a democratic act”, stressing that early elections are “the only democratic solution”. Leader of People’s Party (NS), Dragan Soc, believes that formation of a new government by the parties from the sovereignty bloc would be “a bad signal for Montenegro” and presents another few possible scenarios of denouement: scheduling of new elections, nomination of a new candidate, or “something completely different”?

This “something completely different” is increasingly an option that political forecasters bet on, and it is reflected in a new pact of DPS (and SDP?) with the People’s Party. It is an open secret that relations of NS with SNP and SNS are down to the freezing point. The conflicts escalated over the Law on Cooperation with The Hague Tribunal and division of posts in local elections. The number of those who speak in favour of the thesis that NS is intentionally insisting on the conflict is increasing, and SNP and SNS are gladly accepting it, in order to obtain an alibi for a split. The key to this political game is also in the hands of SDP, because without it, it would be hard for Djukanovic to reestablish the union with the People’s Party and that could have fatal consequences for him in presidential elections.

The demand of DPS that Chairwoman of the Assembly, Liberal Vesna Perovic also resign remained in the shadow of the fall of Vujanovic’s government. She replied that she had no intention to resign and the other parliamentary parties paid no attention to this initiative. SDP estimated that this issue would just further complicate the relations among pro-Montenegrin parties; SNP declared that it would not vote in favour of her replacement because by doing it they would promote assistant chairmen: Rifat Rastoder (SDP) or Dragan Kujovic (DPS); NS sees “no reason for such a move”; SNS considers it “a personal affair of the separatists”...

So another hot political summer awaits Montenegro which is according to many just an introduction into a hot political autumn. The already entangled and unhealthy political milieu is becoming further complicated. “Until the clock strikes twelve” one could say and mean the middle of autumn and most probably the final squaring of accounts on Montenegrin political scene.