May 21, 2006

Montenegro votes for independence: projection

PODGORICA, Serbia and Montenegro (Reuters) - Montenegro
voted in favor of independence on Sunday in a referendum on
ending its state union with Serbia, according to an unofficial
projection of the result.

The Center for Free Elections and Democracy (CESID) and the
Center for Monitoring (CEMI) told a news conference the 'Yes"
vote was an estimated 56.3 percent -- surpassing the 55 percent
threshold required for the outcome to be validated.

"The preliminary result is 56.3 percent, which means that
we already have quite a stable situation with the proviso that
this is not the final estimate," said Zlatko Vujovic of CEMI.

Waves of celebratory gunfire and fireworks thundered across
the capital Podgorica moments after the unofficial result was

If upheld by official results due early on Monday, the
outcome will dissolve a partnership with Serbia going back to
1918 in various forms. Montenegro would be the last of
ex-Yugoslavia's six federal republics to part company with
Serbia since 1991.

The mountainous Adriatic republic has only 650,000 people
but pro-independence leaders say it has a better chance of
economic prosperity on its own than in a dysfunctional union
with Serbia.

Crowds of mostly young people rushed toward the main
boulevards of the capital in cars and on motorcycles.