Serbia's pro-Western President Boris Tadic has reportedly said he will resign 10 months before the end of his mandate, clearing the way for an early presidential election.
Tadic, who has worked hard to bring Serbia closer to the European Union, will seek a new five-year term, the Associated Press reported, but faces a strong challenge from a nationalist candidate.
Tadic's move is being seen as an effort to capitalize on based on Tadic's personal popularity among voters to boost the chances of his Democratic Party in the May 6 poll.
According to Russia Today, Tadic called on voters to choose which way they want the country to go.
“I'm offering a road of European integration,” he said. “I will run in that election with optimism because of the positive trends in our country.”
While known for his pro-Western stance, Tadic has also taken a firm stance on the disputed Kosovo region, saying Serbia should only join the EU if it has sovereignty over Kosovo.
According to RT, Kosovo’s proclaimed independence was behind the faltering talks on Serbia’s EU membership.
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The EU also demanded that Belgrade fully cooperate with the War Crimes Tribunal in The Hague before accession was granted.
Under Tadic, Serbia turned over suspected war criminals more than a decade after the Balkan civil wars, Bloomberg wrote.
Tadic will face a tough challenge from nationalist candidate Tomislav Nikolic, who has the tacit backing of Russia.
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The Democratic Party has been slipping in recent pre-election polls against Nikolic's populist Serbian Progressive Party.
Tadic, 53, is handing over his mandate to Parliamentary Speaker Slavica Djukic-Dejanovic, a member of the Socialist Party, the ruling coalition's junior partner and the party of former Serbian strongman Slobodan Milosevic, Bloomberg reported.
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