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Archive for Monday, May 22, 2006

Polls show voters favor split from Serbia

May 22, 2006

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— The leader of Montenegro's anti-independence faction refused to concede defeat Sunday after a referendum in which an independent monitoring group said voters favored secession from the republic's union with much larger Serbia.

Predrag Bulatovic said results had to be confirmed by the state referendum commission. "An arbitrary estimate by a monitoring group must not and cannot destabilize Montenegro," he said.

The Center for Monitoring said 56 percent of voters opted for independence for their small Balkan republic, one point above the threshold that the European Union said was needed to make secession valid.

Independence supporters spilled into the streets in celebration, firing guns into the air and setting off fireworks.

The republic's pro-independence prime minister, Milo Djukanovic, said after voting that he was convinced "we have a clear majority that will lead Montenegro to its independence."

Bulatovic urged an end to street demonstrations by either side. "I urge peace, tolerance and restraint. I urge our supporters to patiently wait for the results," he said. "Such a crucial decision must not be carried out by a trick."

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