Serbia elected a former ally of war crimes convict Slobodan Milosevic to the post of speaker of parliament late on Wednesday, paving the way for a new pro-European coalition government to be sworn in within a week.
Some 128 deputies in the 250-seat parliament backed psychiatrist Slavica Djukic Dejanovic, 57, a long-serving member of the Socialist party, who spent time with Milosevic and his family during the hours of his arrest in 2001.
She said she would work to ensure an "atmosphere of tolerance and dignity" in parliament, where the Socialists will face the nationalists, their former allies, as opponents for the first time in more than a decade.
The Socialists opted to join a pro-European Union alliance headed by President Boris Tadic's Democratic Party.
Her appointment unlocks the work of the new parliament, elected in May, in which Tadic's bloc emerged as the strongest, but without an outright majority.
Parliament will first vote new laws on government and ministries to reflect the coalition deal the pro-EU bloc and the Socialists reached.
The European Union welcomed the agreement as a chance to establish a pro-European government in the Balkan country and indicated a possibility for Serbia to accelerate its progress towards EU membership.
Closer EU ties hang on Serbia's readiness to hand over war crime fugitives to the Hague tribunal, including Ratko Mladic, a Bosnian Serb general wanted over a genocide in Srebrenica, where 8,000 Bosnian Muslims were killed.
Last Mod: 26 Haziran 2008, 15:47