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Montenegro independence opponents to challenge referendum results

[JURIST] Pro-unification advocates favoring the continuation of Montenegro's association with Serbia announced Wednesday that they will challenge results of Sunday's referendum vote [JURIST report; CDT materials] that resulted in 55.5% of the Montenegrin population voting for independence. Bloc for Joint State leader Predrag Bulatovic said he plans to file an appeal with the referendum commission [official website] before the Wednesday appeal deadline based on alleged voting discrepancies in heavily pro-independence towns, including alleged double voting and illegal registrations. The vote narrowly met the controversial EU-endorsed threshold [JURIST report] of 55% of the population required for independence, which critics said violated the democratic principle of the simple majority.

The election monitoring branch of the Organization for Security and Co-Operation of Europe (OSCE) [official website] released a preliminary report [PDF text] on Monday acknowledging the legitimacy of the vote and expressing satisfaction with the lack of reported voting rights complaints and the 86% turnout. The US ambassador to Montenegro and Serbia has announced that the US supports both the OSCE report and Montenegro's push for independence [press release], and has congratulated Montenegro on the peaceful referendum process. EU Envoy Miroslav Lajcak, who negotiated the 55% threshold with Montenegrin officials, said that opposition groups are free to challenge the results of the election with the referendum commission and the constitutional court, which will decide any appeal within 24 hours. Reuters has more.

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Paper Chase is JURIST's real-time legal news service, powered by a team of 30 law student reporters and editors led by law professor Bernard Hibbitts at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law. As an educational service, Paper Chase is dedicated to presenting important legal news and materials rapidly, objectively and intelligibly in an accessible format.

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