Montenegro: thousands of protesters demand the resignation of PM

policiers-manifestants-dont-certains-masquesThousands of people demonstrated Saturday in Podgorica demanding the resignation of Prime Minister of Montenegro Milo Djukanovic, and clashes between demonstrators and riot police for the third time in a week.

Police used tear gas to disperse the protesters gathered at the call of the opposition in Parliament, in the center of the Montenegrin capital.

Fifteen police officers were injured in the clashes, one of them seriously, and 24 protesters sought medical help, mostly due to discomfort caused by the tear gas, told reporters the Montenegrin Minister of the Interior, Rasko Konjevic.

Andrija Mandic parliamentary, one of the rally organizers, was arrested, the minister added without elaborating.

The demonstrators threw firebombs and firecrackers at riot police guarding the parliament, trying to break the dam and enter the building, and it was then that the police used tear gas to repel, reported a journalist from AFP.

Police and protesters, some of whom were masked and had violent behavior, clashed in several places in the evening, said the Interior Minister.

Police restored order after one hour, and at night the armored vehicles patrolled Podgorica.

Earlier, thousands of people – up to 6,000 according to police – “! Milo thief” and chanted “! It is finished” before Parliament to call the main party of the Montenegrin opposition, the Democratic Front (right ).

They have once again requested the holding of “early, free and fair elections” organized by a transitional government they wish to replace Djukanovic, who is at the center of the Montenegrin power since 1990.

Legislative elections are normally scheduled for early 2016.

“More than 25 years in power, it would be too even (Djukanovic) would be Mahatma Gandhi and not the thief he is,” said one protester, Raso, a 30-year-old unemployed.

“Milo Djukanovic has robbed us, there are no jobs, he destroyed this country”, told AFP another protester, Goran, a retiree.

Hundreds of riot police were deployed in front and around the Parliament.

Djukanovic has rejected calls for his resignation and offered to call early elections after a NATO summit scheduled for December, during which Montenegro should be invited to join the Atlantic Alliance.

The Prime Minister has accused the opposition of trying to prevent the country’s entry into NATO, to which it is hostile. He expressed confidence that Russia, whose relations with NATO are particularly strained since the crisis in Ukraine, was behind the protests in Montenegro.

“Never in NATO” proclaimed a sign held by a demonstrator Saturday. But other protesters have downplayed the issue. The collection bears “no on NATO or Russia, but on poverty” affecting the population, said one of them.

Last week, police had used tear gas to disperse dozens of protesters who camped for three weeks before Parliament to demand the resignation of the Prime Minister.

And October 18, protesters threw stones and pepper gas against the police, who responded with tear gas.

Djukanovic, 53, who reigns supreme over Montenegro for 25 years, became after the parliamentary elections of October 2012 Prime Minister for the sixth time since 1990.

He was also president of Montenegro 1998-2002.

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