Wed, 20 Jan 2021

PODGORICA -- Montenegro's parliament has opened debate on the cabinet of newly appointed Prime Minister Zdravko Krivokapic, the first government in three decades that will not be run by President Milo Djukanovic's Democratic Party of Socialists (DPS).

The session is expected to see a vote on the new government by December 4.

Krivokapic is heading a coalition cobbled together with the sole goal of dislodging the DPS and Djukanovic from power.

He has said that his pro-Serb cabinet's priorities are the economy, fighting the coronavirus, and the 'real rule of law.'

Montenegro and Serbia were part of the same country before an independence referendum in 2006 led to Montenegro splitting off to become an independent nation.

Addressing parliament on December 1, Krivokapic pledged laws that would target corrupt officials and the repeal of those 'tailored to party interests and against the interest of the citizens.'

Krivokapic also said he would give 'special priority' to changing the controversial law on religious communities that triggered demonstrations in support of the Serbian Orthodox Church (SPC) late last year. The protests continued even after COVID-19 restrictions were ordered.

Montenegro remains deeply divided among people seeking closer ties with traditional allies Serbia and Russia and those who view Montenegro as an independent state allied with the West.

The coalition's most powerful party is the Democratic Front (DF), which seeks closer ties with Serbia and Russia and is backed by the Serbian Orthodox Church. Its partners, however, insist that Montenegro, which became a NATO member in 2017, remain on its pro-Western course.

Krivokapic said the new government would work to improve Montenegro's relations with Serbia.

"We will promote a truly good neighborly policy with Belgrade, as well as with everyone in the region, on the principle of sovereignty, independence and non-interference in the internal affairs of other countries," Krivokapic tweeted on November 29.

With reporting by dpa

Copyright (c) 2018. RFE/RL, Inc. Republished with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave NW, Ste 400, Washington DC 20036

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