At the political dying of the light, when your presidential career is nearing its end and you are under international investigation for ethnic cleansing, corruption and the murder of a journalist – what is to be done to protect you, your associates and family members?

The answer – in the perverse, dystopian politics of the Balkans – is to falsely accuse your political opponents of refusing to recognize a genocide in which you yourself have long been implicated and branded as the last, remaining "unconvicted war criminal."

Just over a hundred days since the first democratically elected government took office in Montenegro, NATO member and the region’s smallest nation, President Milo Djukanovic and his party of “Democratic socialists”  -  a crime and extortion racket posing as a political party  – are desperate, and with good reason.         

Defeated in parliamentary elections last year for the first time in 30 years, defeated in his home municipality this March, and braced for defeat again in local elections coming in May, every month that passes sees access to state resources evaporate and the ability to bribevote rig and corrupt slip from his grasp.

But even more than the loss of power, it is impending action before the courts that has Djukanovic most panicked.

Western lawyers are preparing to bring charges against Djukanovic at an international tribunal for crimes against humanity during the Yugoslav wars. The evidence is stark, and in his own words: in 1997, Djukanovic boasted live on television that two years earlier as prime minister he had ordered Muslim Bosniaks to be sent from Montenegro back to Bosnia where they were massacred by war criminal Ratko Mladic. In separate testimony, Mladic’s chief of police confessed that without Djukanovic breaking sanctions to supply fuel for Mladic’s tanks,  they would have been unable to commit the atrocities against Bosnia’s Muslims – including the genocide at Srebrenica.

Further afield, in Malta, where senior political figures are on trial for the murder of anti-corruption journalist  Daphne Caruana Galizia, her family has revealed her last investigation before her death was into Djukanovic’s connections with those arraigned in court.

But it is at home that Djukanovic faces his most immediate threat. Every day the new government exhumes more corruption and malfeasance from the wreckage wrought on the institutions of state by the DPS. Russian spies are uncovered in the heart of the intelligence services; Montenegro’s membership of the international COVAX vaccine alliance was discovered to have been left unpaid; the national airline bankrupted by use as a private jet for the Djukanovic family. Across every ministry and government agency wrongdoing is found.

It is no surprise that Djukanovic feels he has to mount a final attack on those who have made his party a spent force. The push began last week in parliament, where his much-reduced band of henchmen dutifully laid down questions - setting an attempted trap for the new justice minister during government question time.

There’s plenty the DPS could have asked the minister: They could have questioned why he thought a special prosecutor previously appointed by the DPS had claimed there was insufficient evidence to bring charges against Djukanovic; or they could have cross-examined government discussions with the European Union and Council of Europe over plans to rid themselves of this uncooperative, compromised prosecutor. They even could have quizzed how he plans to fix the litany of human rights and rule of law abuses listed by the U.S. State Department as having occurred under Djukanovic’s watch during the DPS’s final year in power. Instead, they asked the minister for his views on the Srebrenica genocide that occurred in neighboring Bosnia – when he was 10 years old.

As an internationally respected attorney – though with four months in office, a political novice – the minister delivered a lawyer’s answer they didn’t deserve. The DPS’ aim was to divide and attempt to brand him –  a former assistant to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees – as an apologist for events that happened when he was a child. It is all the more cynical, given the evidence shows their own DPS leader is actually implicated.

The attack failed. Bosnian victims’ groups have come forward stating they are willing to testify against Djukanovic for his complicity in backing those who committed the genocide – and support has rallied for the minister and the government’s campaign to deliver rule of law and reform to the justice system. Even the media that was once dedicated to the DPS now admit the question was a reckless stitch-up.

Further attempts to trip up and damage other ministers - and the government - are coming. Yet the fact remains, no matter how hard he fights, Djukanovic’s time is over. At 60 – and after 30 years in power – no one would be so foolish to pretend he has a future in political life. The sheer volume of simultaneous cases and charges and lawsuits already launched and being prepared against him from the Hague, to Bosnia, Malta and Montenegro itself means it is impossible for him to escape them all.

For those in the DPS, the choice is simple: Either they cut Djukanovic loose – or they risk going down with him.

Colonel (Retired) Wes Martin has served in law enforcement positions around the world and holds an MBA in International Politics and Business.