Montenegro bans election coverage
PODGORICA, Yugoslavia (August 25, 2000) - In an effort to undermine local participation, Montenegro's independence-minded government on Friday banned all state-run media from covering Yugoslavia's federal elections.
Montenegro and much larger Serbia make up Yugoslavia. The pro-Western government of Montenegro has been taking steps toward independence to protest Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic's hardline policies.
Citing recent constitutional changes that downgraded Montenegro's position in Yugoslavia, the government has decided to boycott the Sept. 24 parliamentary and presidential federal elections, and announced it would launch an anti-election campaign.
Despite their firm opposition to the elections, Montenegrin authorities have said they would not prevent the vote from taking place.
Montenegrins are deeply divided over whether their republic should split from Yugoslavia, and Friday's media gag is sure to raise tensions.
Milosevic's supporters have considerable support in Montenegro, and there are fears of conflicts should the republic's government declare independence.
The ban, which applies to 16 local television and radio stations, is an apparent attempt to undermine the position of the Montenegrin pro-Milosevic's parties, which are calling on citizens to take part.
The information ministry statement, read on state-run television Friday evening, said the media must not "take part in election campaigning" and warned of legal consequences if the order is violated.
In the same news cast, the television reported which parties in Serbia will run in the election race, but made no mention of about 10 parties running in Montenegro.