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Government Leadership Resigns En Masse

January 13, 1989

BELGRADE, Yugoslavia (AP) _ Eight leaders of Montenegro’s government resigned Friday, two days after the central republic’s Communist Party leaders were forced out by growing unrest over the region’s faltering economy.

It was the first time the entire government and party leaderships of one of Yugoslavia’s six constituent republics had stepped down.

The Montenegrin Parliament on Friday accepted the resignations of the six- man state presidency but voted to keep it in a caretaker capacity until new elections were held.

It also accepted resignations of the republic’s representative in the collective nine-man federal presidency and of its speaker, Velisav Vuksanovic.

The state news agency Tanjug reported later that the Parliament also decided to call early elections in Montenegro. A final decision on that matter will be made Jan. 26, Tanjug said.

On Wednesday, the party’s central committee formally accepted the resignation of its ruling Politburo and named a interim leadership to prepare for an extraordinary party congress.

Yugoslavia’s federal government, six republic governments and two autonomous provinces each are run by a party presidium, a state presidency and a government. The presidencies, headed by chairmen, mostly have formal functions subordinate to the party.

Montenegro’s government, in charge of implementing economic policies, already resigned after mass protests last October.

The ouster of the entire Montenegrin ruling elite came after more than 120,000 people demonstrated earlier this week in Titograd, the region’s capital, demanding the leadership step down because of the disastrous state of the region’s economy.

″The current mass dissatisfaction among the workers, students and young people is due to a large extent to the difficulties faced by the country as a whole,″ said Bozidar Tadic, vice-president of the Montenegrin Parliament, in his keynote speech which was broadcast live on national television.

Montenegro’s representative on the federal presidency, Veselin Djuranovic, said his decision to step down ″was motivated by a sense of responsibility for the economic situation ... and in the expectation that it will help alleviate the crisis.″

Montenegro, Yugoslavia’s smallest republic and one of its poorest, has been particularly hard hit by the protracted national economic crisis, characterized by a 250 percent inflation rate, a $21 billion foreign debt and 12 percent drop in living standards in 1988 alone.

The average monthly salary in the republic amounts to the equivalent of $80, and unemployment has soared after the closing of several unprofitable enterprises previously subsidized through federal funds.

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