Montenegro’s long-serving prime minister is to step down, the governing Democratic Socialist party has said, and will be replaced by his deputy, Duško Marković. Tuesday’s announcement came hours after Milo Đukanović, who has governed as Montenegro’s prime minister or president for a total of 21 years since 1991, announced his government was investigating a possible Russian role in an alleged 16 October coup plot aimed at derailing the country’s elections. It is unclear whether there is any connection between Đukanović’s claims of a coup and his abrupt departure. Party officials were quoted as saying that he would be replaced by Marković as its candidate for prime minister if it was able to secure a majority coalition in post-election negotiations. Đukanović, whose time in office has been dogged by allegations of authoritarianism and corruption, has retired from leadership on two previous occasions, in 2006 and 2010, before returning to the helm.
Đukanović had said there was a “strong connection of a foreign factor” in the alleged conspiracy to take over the Montenegrin parliament on election day, adding that the country’s authorities would investigate the extent of involvement of Russia and Serbia. Twenty people, including the former commander of special police in neighbouring Serbia, were arrested on the day of the would-be coup attempt.
The Serbian prime minister, Aleksandar Vučić, announced on Monday night that Serbian police had made more arrests of people suspected of following Đukanović and planning unspecified crimes in Montenegro.
“We have seized uniforms, money and other things, and have informed the special prosecution in Montenegro of what we know,” Vučić told a press conference. He said the suspects had no connection to the Serbian state but did have ties to an unnamed third country.