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Pro-Europe Prime Minister Claims Victory in Montenegro Elections

Montenegro's Prime Minister Milo Djukanovic has claimed victory in the Balkan country's general election. Mr. Djukanovic's election success followed his campaign for Montenegro's entry into the European Union and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.

People danced in the streets after Montenegro's ruling coalition claimed victory in Sunday's early parliamentary elections.

Crowds shouted his name and some threw fire works in the capital Podgorica, when Prime Minister Milo Djukanovic appeared in front of his supporters.

He said voters opted for a safer life, for economic prosperity and democracy, and for the European future of the country.

Initial results showed that Prime Minister Djukanovic's coalition, known as "For a European Montenegro," received about 49 of the parliament's 81 seats.

Its closest challenger, the opposition Socialist People's Party, was expected to receive 15 seats followed by the New Serbian Democracy Party in third place.

The coalition's re-election has been linked to its push towards membership of the European Union and NATO.

Mr. Djukanovic's government also oversaw an economy, which grew strongly since Montenegro became independent, following its split with Serbia in 2006.

The opposition accused the prime minister of seeking early elections before the effects of global recession would make winning back office more difficult.

But the government of this tiny nation of less than 700,000 people said it wanted an early ballot only to in its words "receive a new mandate" to push through necessary reforms.