Montenegrin premier accuses Serbia of meddling after independence vote

Montenegro's prime minister accused Serbia of meddling in Montenegrin affairs and encouraging the unionists in the tiny Balkan republic in their rejection of its freshly won independence, according to comments published Friday. "Everything they (unionists) do here comes under Serbian government orders," Prime Minister Milo Djukanovic was quoted as saying by the Vijesti daily.

Serbia-Montenegro was the last union between republics of the Yugoslav federation after it collapsed in a series of bloody wars in the 1990s. But in a referendum held last Sunday under rules set by the European Union, the tiny republic of 620,000 people voted to split from the much larger Serbia and become a sovereign state. Tensions followed the polling and its outcome, as Montenegrins remain deeply divided over the independence issue.

Serbia's government has openly supported the preservation of the joint state and Montenegro's pro-Serb opposition. The Montenegrin preliminary tally showed that 55.5 percent of ballots cast were in favor of independence, just half a percentage point or 2,090 votes over the 55-percent threshold needed to validate secession under EU guidelines.

N.U.