Serb PM resigns blaming divided coaltion

'I have called a government session on March 10 to discuss dissolution of parliament,' said Kostunica.

Serb PM resigns blaming divided coaltion

Serbian Prime Minister Vojislav Kostunica announced his resignation on Saturday, saying his government was no longer functioning because of disunity in the coalition.

"This is the end of the government," he told a news conference. "I have called a government session on March 10 to discuss dissolution of parliament."

He said it was likely that a snap election would be held on May 11, the date already set for local elections in Serbia.

The nationalist leader has indirectly accused his pro-Western coalition partners of giving up on defending Serbia's claim to Kosovo in favour of better ties with the West, which backs Kosovo's secession.

He said part of the coalition wanted Serbia to be a member of the European Union only if the independence of Kosovo, which two thirds of EU members have recognised, is revoked, while a majority did not want EU membership linked to Kosovo.

His decision to end the government puts him in direct conflict with Serbia's pro-Western president Boris Tadic and his party, who formed the backbone of the coalition which came to power 10 months ago.

Kostunica's Democratic Party of Serbia (DSS) says it would support a Serbian Radical Party (SRS) resolution in parliament, calling on the EU to "clearly and unambiguously" confirm Serbia's territorial integrity, as a condition for further European integration.

Tadic's Democratic Party and their liberal G17 Plus partner opposed the resolution in cabinet earlier this week and defeated it 2-to-1.

The pro-EU parties say the resolution will not bring back Kosovo -- whose Albanian majority declared independence on Feb 17 with Western backing -- but put a halt to Serbia's bid to join the European Union, which is their key policy aim.

Agencies
Last Mod: 09 Mart 2008, 10:38
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