Zlatko Vujović, President of the Governing Board of the Centre for Monitoring and Research (CeMI), says that critics of the current regime are exposed to discrimination, intimidation and stigmatization.
"The government may have changed, but its behavior has remained the same. CeMI goes on regardless of the pressures we are exposed to", Vujović told "Vijesti".
He said they were disappointed with the attitude of the ruling parliamentary majority, which unanimously prevented them from being an associate member of the parliamentary committee, even though they have been active in that area for a long time.
"We see this decision of the parliamentary majority as ill-intentioned. Following this decision, this Committee also questioned all future decisions of the parliamentary majority regarding the election of civil society representatives — imagine what the future election of a member of the Prosecutorial Council from the ranks of NGO representatives will look like? "Who else can believe that someone who is not exclusively in line with the parliamentary majority will be elected a member of the Prosecutorial Council", Vujović asked.
Vujović said that after the formation of the Government, they were encouraged by the invitations of its members from the Civic Movement URA regarding the engagement in the Ministry of Internal Affairs and government bodies in discovering the so-called phantoms in the voter list.
"We gladly responded and announced the control of the voter lists. After we checked part of the voter list in Nikšić, and the complete voter list in Herceg Novi, we submitted the data to the Minister of the Interior in accordance with the procedure determined by the representatives of the Ministry of the Interior. We found out about 3,500 phantoms, and 10.6% only in Herceg Novi. No one from CeMI believed that the competent authorities would take action within their jurisdiction, but we did not expect that I would have to give a statement to the Police Directorate instead. CeMI understood the message — the discovery of phantoms in the voter list must be stopped, and CeMI must be intimidated. It is important to explain to the public that the CeMI was allowed by the Ministry of Interior to control only part of the voter list for the municipalities where the elections are being held. If we were allowed to control other municipalities, we would do it", Vujović said.
He pointed out that additional stigmatization occurred after activities to prevent the government's moves to liberalize citizenship, which, according to Vujović, would lead to electoral engineering.
"So the decision to prevent CeMI from being part of this group is not a surprise either. CeMI will continue to be the subject of discrimination and intimidation, they are drawing our targets that result in threats and insults through social networks, and sometimes on the street as well", Vujović concluded.
Vujović: DPS lobbied donors against us
Zlatko Vujović said that they also experienced sabotage from the previous government led by the DPS, and that they were not allowed to be part of the parliamentary working group for electoral reform for formal reasons.
"At that time, a key person of the DPS in the Assembly, having power back then, asked a foreign ambassador to stop funding CeMI, accusing us of trying to sabotage the electoral reform together with the Democrats. Now we are actively accused from the Democratic Front, and passively from the other two ruling coalitions (Democrats and URA) that we are against the ruling parliamentary majority. Ruling parliamentary majority, instead of meeting the OSCE and EU demands that electoral reform be inclusive, they discriminate against leading NGOs. No matter how hard they try, without CEMI, the electoral process in Montenegro cannot be imagined, nor inclusive electoral reform.”
Vujovic added that he personally ran for contribution to the work of the parliamentary committee for electoral reforms as an associate member of the academic community.
"I ran again on behalf of the academic community for membership in the working group, because I am the only university professor of electoral systems in Montenegro, not because I expect the decision to be different, but to further shed light on the domestic, and especially foreign, public that critics of the current regime are exposed to discrimination, intimidation and stigmatization”.