Montenegro Opposition Mulls Options After Clashes

26 Oct 15

Opposition considers «new forms of resistance» as two leaders arrested amid violent clashes that rocked the capital Podgorica.

Montenegro’s strongest opposition alliance, the Democratic Front, vowed on Sunday to continue and strengthen its «fight for freedom», after two of its officials were arrested when police broke up an anti-government demonstration late on Saturday in Podgorica.

The State Prosecutor’s Office said on Sunday that opposition MPs Andrija Mandic and Slaven Radunovic were charged with the criminal offence of «incitement to violent change of the constitutional order» by encouraging protesters to break into the parliament building in Podgorica.

They were released late on Sunday after spending 24 hours in custody.

«Thanks to all who have been with us. In the following days we will have an answer to this brutality,” the Democratic Front said on Sunday.

The opposition claimed that Mandic and Radunovic had been unlawfully arrested because they were protected by parliamentary immunity. Under Montenegrin law, MPs cannot be prosecuted for some crimes, including libel, but can be prosecuted for some offences that would usually result in a jail term of at least five years.

Mandic and Radunovic were detained after Saturday’s demonstration turned violent. Police fired tear gas to disperse several thousand protesters demanding the resignation of Prime Minister Milo Djukanovic and the formation of an interim government to organise an early generation election.

Protesters chanted «Milo, thief!», while some threw flares and fireworks at police officers guarding parliament.

Djukanovic said the violence at the protests was an attempt to seize state institutions, overthrow the government and alter the country’s political orientation. In these circumstances, he added, police were forced to act.

He once again accused «nationalist circles in Serbia and Russia» of interfering in the internal politics of Montenegro in order to alter its pro-Western stance.

Montenegro police have detained 10 people while 29 policemen were injured and 26 protesters sought treatment after being teargassed, the interior ministy said.

Contrary to their Prime Minister opposition leaders stress they fight against corruption and organised crime. But for most of the protesters, the demonstrations in the capital Podgorica were inspired by poverty and their everyday struggle for survival.

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