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November 10, 1996
. Vreme News Digest Agency No 266

Fireworks in Podgorica

by by Velizar Brajovic

The Democratic Party of Socialists (DPS) has completed the battle for the mandates of representatives and MP's in the republic and federal parliament amassing a greater victory than four years ago. Apart from Ulcinj, where victory was achieved by the Democratic Alliance of Albanians, DPS won in all Montenegrin municipalities, including Bar, Tivat, Bijelo Polje, Plav and Rozaje, where in the previous years local authority was held by the opposition. In a special program of Montenegrin television, bearing the title of "Evening of the Winners", president Momir Bulatovic did not hide his pleasure that Bar and Tivat have become "precious stars on DPS's flag".

DPS members celebrated their coming into authority in Bar in the loudest possible manner. They had vainly besieged it in the period of the anti-bureaucratic revolution, therefore venting their emotions in this final victory: an ox was being roasted on the plateau in front of the city hall building, while the honor to sample the first piece befell Srdja Bozovic, vice-president of the Montegrin parliament. The banquet, spiced with alcohol, songs and machine-gun fire, continued well into the night, therefore infringing the so-called Momir Bulatovic law which bans the use of fire arms at weddings and other celebrations. However, this celebration was special, since the chief of the Bar secret police Vaso Baosic was credited for it most, as a certain official of the Social-Democratic Party from Bar told VREME.

President Bulatovic and his associates were not surprised by the election results for the republic parliament either. The final 45 mandates were a well known fact a few months prior to the elections. The claims of DPS members from Plava, Rozaja, Bijelo Polje, and even Bar and Tivat, that their victory at the local elections shall be convincing caused laughter amongst the opposition, which counted on certain victories in those cities, as well as in Podgorica, Cetinje, Niksic. On the other hand, DPS was making all the necessary preparations for a celebration. One hour after the polling places were closed, the man on duty at the DPS election headquarters announced to VREME'S journalist "we hold the majority in Bijelo Polje and Pljevlje".

The first results are pouring into the election headquarters of National Harmony from the polling place situated in a village in Kuce above Podgorica. Unfavourable, but followed by a comment - "the first litter is thrown into the water". Krnjice and Cijevna on Zeta were thrown in, echoes the voice of the secretary, followed by the question "is it possible for us to take Zeta". Hope is born, but around midnight it is slowly extinguished.

In the republic election committee precisely at midnight results of the counted 15 percent of the votes are announced. DPS is leading, but in certain places National Harmony is as well.

The plateau in front of the government building is cluttered with cars, car horns are piercing the city and guests from all Montenegrin cities are pouring into town. The police tries with difficulty to control traffic in the side streets, a fire truck appears out of nowhere and at exactly 1:30 AM - glorious fireworks. Already some 2000 people had gathered, including top government officials, local government officials, as well as the most successful private businessmen, including those who the local grapevine had claimed had fled across the border. President Momir Bulatovic arrives in front of the government building accompanied by his wife and chief of cabinet which kicks off a race of who shall shake his hand first, who shall hug him... "Mr. President, we have been taught only to win, from basketball onwards", shouts a delighted businessman, which brings forwards the president's response: "Well, all we have to do is to keep in shape!" The celebration in the government building carried on until dawn.

Votes were counted while DPS was celebrating, and on many polling places, opposition members of the election committees had certain problems. A girl from the Liberal Alliance persisted in the demand to sign the minutes from polling place 59 in Podgorica. The president of that committee did not allow all ballots to be counted at the beginning of the voting procedure, and refused to count the left over ones at the end. Throughout that day, complaints were pouring into the election headquarters of National Harmony about the noticed irregularities and problems which certain citizens encountered who were not allowed to exercise their voting rights.

Unquestionably, DPS have conducted their election campaign impeccably, leaving nothing to chance. They held central rallies, more than 200 local ones and had more or less managed to enter every single house. They registered 150.000 votes, which insured an almost three-third majority. National Harmony has almost 75.000 votes, 19 MP's in the republic, and the National Party 8 seats in the Citizens Council of the federal parliament. With almost 17.000 votes, that is 5.7 percent, the Social-Democratic Party failed to make it into the republic parliament, managing to save its parliamentary status by gaining one MP seat in the federal parliament. SDA with 10.000 votes has 2 seats, as well as the Democratic Alliance of Albanians (5209) and the Democratic Union of Albanians with 3849 votes. What was especially injurious to the opposition is that SDP did not join National Harmony since their votes would enable the coalition to have another 5-8 mandates as they had previously calculated.

In a statement for VREME, Slavko Perovic says that "regardless of the announced election results, the real Montenegro won. National Harmony won, which had close to 200.000 people with them, a result which even they cannot annul. We are dealing with a perfect authoritarian government, which we are well acquainted with... National Harmony is a winner, not in terms of the number of mandates, but rather in the fact that Montenegro has returned to itself, in a true and noble manner".

President Momir Bulatovic says that at these elections Montenegro has made an incredibly important democratic step, which shall step up the process of normalization in the region, and according to the words of Svetozar Marovic, democracy has won and serious thoughts have been given to Montengro's well-being. Bulatovic and Marovic are announcing that they shall prosecute certain party leaders for slander and that they shall do so in civil court cases. "I am as worried about those accusations as I am worried that a meteor shall land on my head", says Novak Kilibarda.

Bulatovic and Marovic are announcing personnel changes in the party, for which Marovic states that the party shall get rid of those people who had "verbally claimed loyalty to DPS while working against it". "Airing under the DPS umbrella", announces prime minister Djukanovic and it is obvious that internal conflicts and turmoil are in store for DPS.

Novak Kilibarda reaffirms that National Harmony shall fill up the MP seats which they had won in the parliament, that they shall keep their ears open to the voice of the nation, and that they shall accept every appeal to speak up on their behalf. We shall not call people to rally, says Kilibarda, yet neither shall we remain deaf towards the appeals of the citizens who surrounded us in various Montenegrin town squares.

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