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Monday, April 26, 1999 Published at 01:21 GMT 02:21 UK

World: Europe

Montenegro warns of destabilisation

Montenegro's police are outnumbered but loyal

By Brian Barron in the Montenegran capital, Podgorica

The president of the Montenegro Republic, the junior partner in the Yugoslav Federation, has accused the Belgrade authorities of trying to destabilise his country, which has remained neutral in the conflict over Kosovo.

Kosovo: Special Report
As police wearing flak jackets guarded the outside of the building, President Milo Djukanovic told me that the government here has been the target of a destabilisation plot for several years.

He said the Yugoslav leader, Mr Milosevic, is now trying to use the 20,000 strong federal army based in Montenegro to take over all government duties.

Brian Barron: This republic contains two rival military forces
"This country is a bomb that could explode any moment," said Mr Djukanovic. He said that at an individual level he has some good contacts with the Yugoslav army command.

Backing for police

Asked if the Montenegran police force, which has 8,000 armed officers, would resist any military coup, the president said he has no doubt they would defend both the country and its democratic system.

[ image: Mr Djukanovic believes Serbs are setting up a rival administration]
Mr Djukanovic believes Serbs are setting up a rival administration
"The police are supported by our citizens and they are totally ready to protect both our state and our democracy," he said.

His remarks came amid continuing tension here between pro-democracy moderates and those who believe Montenegro should support Serbia in its war with Nato.

Renewed Nato air strikes against the Yugoslav military could undermine support for the youthful president of Montenegro but they cannot be ruled out as the Western alliance tries to throttle supplies reaching Serbia

This country remains very jittery.

On Sunday we were arrested at gunpoint by miltary gurards while filming the capital from a public park. Our lives were threatened and video tapes seized.

Later the military police intervened and behaved very properly, but the incident is a measure of the underlying tension.

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