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Montenegro’s pro-Serbian governing coalition collapses

PODGORICA, MONTENEGRO (AP) – Montenegro’s conservative pro-Serbian governing coalition collapsed on Friday amid internal disputes, after Parliament backed a no-confidence motion tabled by a junior coalition partner.

Lawmakers voted 43-11 in favour of the motion against Prime Minister Zdravko Krivokapic’s government following weeks of political deadlock. Other lawmakers in the 81-seat Parliament either abstained or left the session before the vote.

Krikokapic, a university professor, has headed an ideologically-mixed coalition that included pro-Serbian groups – as well as smaller parties which are not happy with the pace of reforms needed for the small country’s bid to join the European Union (EU).

Friday’s vote came less than two years after Krikokapic’ coalition came to power, replacing a long-ruling pro-Western party.

Coalition partners were at odds over several issues, including the influence of Serbia’s populist administration and its church in Montenegro’s domestic affairs.

Montenegrins remain deeply divided over joining the EU, or seeking closer ties with neighbouring Serbia and its ally Russia.

Seeking to break the political stalemate, a junior partner in the government filed the no-confidence bid and proposed that a minority government be formed.

Montenegro, a small Balkan nation on the Adriatic Sea, is a member of NATO and has formally requested EU membership. The government deadlock has stalled political and economic reforms.

Montenegro’s Prime Minister Zdravko Krivokapic leaves the Parliament session. PHOTO: AP