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Serbian Premier refuses to back President in poll

Serbian Premier refuses to back President in poll
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Serbian Prime Minister Vojislav Kostunica has refused to endorse his coalition partner Boris Tadic in Sunday’s run-off presidential election. Tadic is in a tight race with ultranationalist Radical Party candidate Tomislav Nikolic – in a poll which could decide the future course of the country’s policies.

Tadic, the incumbent, rejects amending the coalition pact with a clause obliging Serbia to tear up any agreement with the EU, if it recognizes the independence of Kosovo and sends a supervisory mission there. He condemned Kostunica’s demands as “blackmail”.

Polls suggest Sunday’s vote is too close to call and differ over whether Kostunica can influence it either way.

He stopped short of throwing his party’s support behind Nikolic, who is only two percentage points behind Tadic in the latest polls.

Nicolic, a hardliner, has promised to turn his back on the EU if it supports Kosovo’s bid to secede.

Underlining where his priorities lie, Nicolic travelled to Moscow yesterday to meet Dmitri Medvedev, the man tipped to become Russia’s next President.

Russia, Serbia’s main ally, has been trying to use its political clout to hinder Kosovo’s plans.