Israel’s Kadima party has named Ehud Olmert as its acting chairman. He will lead the centrist bloc into elections scheduled for March 28. The decision was prompted by Ariel Sharon’s serious medical condition caused by a massive stroke nearly two weeks ago. Opinion polls indicate that Kadima, which Sharon set up after leaving the right-wing Likud party, would win the ballot easily with Olmert at its head.
Olmert, who is also the interim prime minister, is expected to ask the cabinet later this week to replace Likud ministers who resigned over the weekend. Last night, doctors performed a tracheotomy on Sharon. They hope the incision in his windpipe will help wean him off a respirator. Sharon has been in a coma since his stroke on January 4. There have been rumours today that he briefly opened his eyes but a spokesman for the hospital denied those reports.