Montenegrin political parties agree to resist military takeover
Situation tense in pro-Western Yugoslav republic
April 3, 1999
PODGORICA, Yugoslavia (CNN) -- With speculation swirling that the federal Yugoslav regime headed by President Slobodan Milosevic may try to depose the government of Montenegro, the political situation in the tiny republic is tense, but with a degree of unity.
All of Montenegro's political parties, including an opposition party normally aligned with Milosevic, have agreed to resist any attempt at a takeover by federal troops, according to Suepozar Marovic, the speaker of Montenegro's parliament.
And local leaders remain incensed that, without consulting them, Milosevic appointed a new military commander for Montenegro, one of the two republics that make up the Yugoslav federation.
"This is just another contribution to the constitutional and legal disruption practiced by the autocratic regime of Slobodan Milosevic," said Montenegrin President Milo Djukanovic. "He considers it his right to unilaterally dismiss the commander of the Second Army."
Djukanovic, a reformer who has tried to build ties to the West, has declared Montenegro's neutrality in the conflict between NATO and the other Yugoslav republic, Serbia. And he has harshly criticized Milosevic's policy of defiance of the West.
"It is a policy that has led to a series of defeats. Mr. Milosevic and his followers have brought about the disintegration of our country. They brought about the war in Bosnia and Croatia, lost Serb territory in Krajina and Slovenia and, finally, there is the tragedy of Kosovo," Djukanovic said.
However, despite Montenegro's pledge of neutrality and much to the dismay of its leaders, NATO has bombed Yugoslav military installations on Montenegrin soil. Milosevic supporters have held daily demonstrations in the streets, and tens of thousands of ethnic Albanian refugees from Kosovo have entered the republic.
So far, the Montenegrin government remains firmly in control; yet that sense of stability is tenuous. There is an underlying fear that one single incident -- spontaneous or planned -- could spark a mass uprising.
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