Milo Djukanovic's DPS claims victory in Montenegro presidential election

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Voting began in Montenegro's presidential election on Sunday, with pro-European Union membership candidate Milo Djukanovic and his ruling Democratic Party of Socialists (DPS) forecast to get slightly more than 50 percent of the votes. The pro-European leader defied Russian Federation previous year by taking the Balkan State into North Atlantic Treaty Organisation.

The vote is the first since Montenegro joined the Western military alliance in December.

Djukanovic is set to replace incumbent President Filip Vujanovic, whose mandate expires in May.

Montenegro's last parliamentary vote in 2016 was marred by the arrest of a group of Serb nationalists who had allegedly plotted to assassinate Djukanovic and bring pro-Russian parties to power, to stop the country's accession to North Atlantic Treaty Organisation.

None of the other five candidates, including lawmaker Draginja Vuksanovic, the first woman to run for Montenegro's presidency, reached double digits in polling.

Polls suggest the 56-year-old Djukanovic could win more than half of the votes Sunday and avoid a runoff.

The likely victor is Milo Djukanovic, who has led the government as prime minister six times since 1991 and was president from 1998-2002. Bojanic said Djukanovic "cannot be the solution because he is the creator of the instability and chaos that we witness in the streets of Montenegro".

He said that the fact that such large percent of voters opted for him is a strong confirmation that Montenegro should continue along the path towards the EU.

Djukanovic was prime minister during a tense October 2016 parliamentary election when authorities said they thwarted pro-Russian coup attempt created to prevent the country from joining North Atlantic Treaty Organisation.

Moscow, which opposed Montenegro's North Atlantic Treaty Organisation membership bid, has dismissed suggestions that it backed the alleged coup.

Bojanic, the second ranked candidate asked his voters not to understand the result as a defeat, but as a basis for future struggle against the ruling party and refused to congratulate Djukanovic on the victory.