Montenegro's pro- and anti-independence are both confident in victory at referendum

"I'm convinced that the support for an independent Montenegro is growing," pro-independence Prime Minister Milo Djukanovic said before Sunday's vote. "I'm absolutely certain that we will exceed a 55 percent majority."

The European Union, which fears that the referendum could result in unrest, is demanding that at least 55 percent of the voters choose independence for the ballot to be considered legitimate.

Montenegro, with a population of just 620,000, is dwarfed by Serbia and its 8 million people. Recent opinion polls show that the pro- and anti-independence camps are almost evenly divided, with the secessionists enjoying a slight advantage, the AP reports.

Djukanovic said that his bloc's opinion poll surveys show that the support for Montenegro's independence "is nearing 60 percent."

Djukanovic said that the republic's economy has suffered due to Serbia's failure to build closer ties with the European Union. The EU has demanded that Belgrade deliver war crimes fugitive Gen. Ratko Mladic to the Netherlands-based U.N. tribunal before resuming Serbia-Montenoegro's pre-membership talks.

Predrag Bulatovic, the leader of the pro-Serb unionists, said "we are certain of 200,000 votes, which will be enough to pave the way for our triumph."

There are about 485,000 registered voters in Montenegro.