Montenegro Bows to Gusinje’s Municipal Ambitions

Montenegro is to get a new 23rd municipality after parliament verified a government decision adopted last December to grant municipal status to Gusinje.

The small town in northern Montenegro, near Albania, which has only around 2,000 inhabitants but a large diaspora in the US, is mainly home to ethnic Bosniaks and Albanians.

The town was formerly part of the municipality of Plav but in a consultative referendum most voters backed a bid to obtain municipal status.

Earlier, Petnjica, also in the north of Montenegro, where the majority of citizens are Bosniak, regained the municipal status it previously had from 1945 to 1957, when it was merged with Berane.

Osman Damjanovic, chairman of the board for restoring municipal status to Gusinje, said the local community welcomed the decision and looked forward to holding local elections.

For years, Bosnian and Albanian political parties and NGOs have urged the government to allow local referenda on municipal status in communities where Bosnians or Albanians make up the majority of the population.

The ruling Democratic Party of Socialists of Prime Minister Milo Djukanovic, DPS, has long held out against such moves.

However, his government depends in part on the support of significant ethnic minorities - and after they threatened not to vote for his party in the 2012 elections, he pledged that referenda would go ahead in Petnjica and later in Gusinje.

Djukanovic has also announced the possibility of forming a new, 24th municipality in mainly Albanian Malesija, near the capital, Podgorica.

If the vote there is a success, Malesija will be taken out of Podgorica and established as a separate municipality.
“If we seek the right of all of us to decide what...

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