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Montenegrin leaders resign

By NESHO DJURIC

BELGRADE, Yugoslavia -- Montenegro's parliament accepted Friday the resignations of the republic's top government leaders demanded by tens of thousands of demonstrators protesting the state of the region's economy, official news media said.

The resignations included that of one of the last remaining leaders from the Tito era.

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The resignations were demanded in mass demonstrations Tuesday and Wednesday called to hold Montenegro's leaders accountable for an economy wracked with low wages and crippling triple-digit inflation.

Official reports said the regional parliament sitting in Titograd accepted the resignations of Montenegro's top government leaders including the republic's member of Yugoslavia's collective rotating eight-member presidency, Veselin Djuranovic.

Djuranovic was one of the few remaining leaders from the post World War II era of Josip Broz, known as Marshal Tito, who died in 1980.

The Montenegrin parliament at its regular session Jan. 26 will take up proposals for elections to be held this spring for all government bodies in Montenegro state to replace 'incompetent' leaders with 'capable, dilligent and honorable' officials,' according to a delegate.

Parliament received the letters of resignation after a two-day mass rally this week of tens of thousands of workers and students to protest a worsening economic situation and demand the ouster of the entire leadership of Montenegro, the smallest of Yugoslavia's six republics with a population of 650,000 people.

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Their demands were accepted Wednesday when all top republic officials including Djuranovic and Montenegrin representatives in Yugoslavia's top state and ruling Communist party bodies resigned.

Some 190 delegates ofthe Montenegrin parliament's three chambers met in a televised special session and unanimously accepted the resignations.

The legislators said the current members of the state presidency should stay in office until new officials are elected within 30 days.

In 1941, Djuranovic joined Tito's partisans to fight Nazi German occupation troops. After the war he served terms as the republic's Prime Minister and Montenegrin Communist Party leader.

He was Yugoslav Prime Minister from 1977 to 1982 then became Montenegrin president for two years before he was elected in the Yugoslav state presidency in 1984 for a five-year term. In the rotating national presidency, Djuranovic was President of Yugoslavia in 1984 and 1985.

A peaceful crowd that at one point Wednesday reached about 120,000 people in front of the parliament building in the Montenegrin capital of Titograd protested against incompetent Montenegrin leadership.

The protestors blamed the republic's leaders for the moribund economy in Montenegro where the average salary of a factory worker is $60 a month and the cost of meat is as high as more than $4 a pound.

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While the nation's productivity has declined, its foreign debt has soared to $22 billion.

Unemployment is estimated at 1.2 million, about 15 percent of the work force.

Labor and ethnic unrest in the nation of 23 million people has festered since the death of Tito in May, 1980. The strong central government that existed when Tito lived was fractured by continual disagreements of the eight presidents of the six republics and two autonomous provinces.

Yugoslav Prime Minister Branko Mikulic resigned Dec. 30 under heavy criticism for failing to introduce measures to deal with the economic problems, which include inflation that reached 250 percent in December.

A complicated process of electing a new prime minister is under and the country is expected to have a new government by mid-February.

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