Montenegro sets presidential vote for March 19

FILE PHOTO: Montenegro's Djukanovic speaks in Podgorica

SARAJEVO (Reuters) - Montenegro's parliamentary speaker set March 19 as the date for a presidential election that will challenge the long-time rule of incumbent President Milo Djukanovic, who has been among the leaders of the Adriatic country for the past three decades.

The office of president is largely ceremonial, but a new person in the job could end a months-long political deadlock created after Djukanovic rejected a new prime minister-designate proposed by the parliamentary majority, citing procedural errors.

Veteran politician Miodrag Lekic was rejected as the candidate for premier after a no-confidence motion in the Cabinet of incumbent Prime Minister Dritan Abazovic in August.

That was the second no-confidence motion in the government last year.

Lekic was declared PM-designate in December under new legislation that Djukanovic said was anti-constitutional. He subsequently failed to get support for his proposed government.

Politics in Montenegro, a NATO member and a candidate to join the European Union, have long been marked by a rift between those who identify as Montenegrins and those who see themselves as Serbs and oppose Montenegro's independence from a former state union with neighbouring and much larger Serbia.

(Reporting by Daria Sito-Sucic; Editing by Sharon Singleton)