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Montenegrin Prime Minister Resigns

April 19, 2002

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PODGORICA, Yugoslavia (AP) _ The prime minister of Montenegro, Yugoslavia’s junior republic, resigned Friday amid a government crisis over a deal with Serbia to reshape the country as a loose union of two states.

Prime Minister Filip Vujanovic announced his resignation in a letter to parliament, blaming unsuccessful attempts to preserve a coalition government split over the independence issue.

Vujanovic asked the assembly to formally confirm the end of his mandate.

Last week, four of pro-independence ministers, including Foreign Minister Branko Lukovac, resigned to protest the accord, brokered last month by the European Union.

The accord, signed by President Milo Djukanovic and Yugoslav President Vojislav Kostunica, radically restructures Yugoslavia under the new name _ Serbia and Montenegro. Both republics would gain greater autonomy.

Parliaments in both Serbia and Montenegro have endorsed the agreement.

The agreement allows the republics to vote on full independence in three years. Still, proponents of independence for Montenegro _ the smaller republic that has long been dominated by Serbia _ were angered by the deal.

Under the EU-negotiated accord, Serbia and Montenegro will share defense and foreign policies and a seat at the United Nations but will maintain separate economies, currencies and customs services.

Yugoslavia once included four other republics; Bosnia, Croatia, Slovenia and Macedonia. But they broke away _ most of them violently _ under then-President Slobodan Milosevic in the 1990s.

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