Serbia's Tadic quits early, paving way for general election
Apr 4, 2012, 10:59 GMT
Belgrade - Serbian President Boris Tadic said Wednesday that he will resign, a move that will pull forward presidential elections by about eight months.
Tadic was due to formally tender his resignation to parliamentary speaker Slavica Djukic-Dejanovic on Thursday. She will serve as the acting head of state until the next president is sworn in.
The move will pave the way for presidential elections to be scheduled alongside parliamentary and local elections on May 6.
Tadic said he will run again. Despite a two-term limit on the presidency, he is eligible for a third term because his first term was, technically, before Serbia became a fully sovereign country.
'I will run in these elections with optimism because of positive trends in our country,' Tadic said.
Analysts said Tadic's decision to cut his five-year term short was a bid to boost the chances of his Democratic Party (DS), which trails the Serbian Progressive Party (SNS), the largest opposition group, according to opinion polls.
'We will most certainly win,' Tadic said in Belgrade.
SNS leader Tomislav Nikolic will once again be Tadic's main challenger. Tadic edged him out with 50.3 to 47.9 per cent of the vote in a 2008 run-off.
The European Union formally recognized Serbia as a membership candidate in March.
Tadic and DS had expected the move to boost their ratings, but that had not been the case, partly because of the country's deteriorating economic situation and partly because many Serbs believe progress towards EU membership was made at the cost of concessions to Kosovo, a former province that Serbia does not recognize as an independent nation.
Further progress, most of all the start of accession talks, hinges on further normalization of relations between Serbia and mostly Albanian Kosovo. The two sides have been negotiating contentious technical issues under EU auspices since March 2011.
The talks have been placed on hold until after the elections, along with other issues that Serbia needs to address, including a 1.1-billion-dollar loan that the International Monetary Fund suspended over excessive state spending.
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