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Bosnia's parliament endorses new prime minister

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By Reuters
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SARAJEVO (Reuters) – Zoran Tegeltija was endorsed by parliament on Thursday as Bosnia’s new prime minister and said he would work to make up for lost time after a 13-month deadlock on forming a government.

Tegeltija, a Serb economist who had served as finance minister of Bosnia’s autonomous Serb Republic, was nominated for the job after a compromise between the country’s rival ethnic leaders last month.

Addressing the lawmakers he said his government’s priority would be reforms needed to win the status of candidate for EU membership, and resumption of talks with the International Monetary Fund and other international financial institutions. The government is expected to be formed by the end of the year.

“It will be our obligation to work with a dedication to catch up on lost time,” said Tegeltija, 58. “We must unblock the processes in the government and parliament, adopt the next year’s budget and re-activate frozen investments to spur growth.”

Tegeltija, a member of the Bosnian Serb ruling Alliance of Independent Social Democrats (SNSD), was nominated for job by SNSD leader Milorad Dodik, who is also serving as a Serb member on Bosnia’s three-man inter-ethnic presidency.

Bosnia’s central government or Council of Ministers has been working in a caretaker capacity since a general election last year. Disagreement among the presidency’s Serb, Croat and Bosniak members on how to proceed towards NATO integration had blocked the formation of a new government.

After a heated discussion by opposition MPs, Tegeltija was approved with 28 votes in the 42-seat parliament.

Under a compromise reached by the presidency, a programme of reforms demanded by NATO as part of Bosnia’s process of integration with the alliance but previously blocked by the Bosnian Serbs, should be sent to NATO a day after the parliament confirms Tegeltija as prime minister.

(Reporting by Maja Zuvela; Editing by Daria Sito-Sucic and Frances Kerry)