Reuters International

Serbian Prime Minister and leader of the Serbian Progressive Party (SNS) Aleksandar Vucic reacts after elections in Belgrade, Serbia April 24, 2016. REUTERS/Marko Djurica


BELGRADE (Reuters) - Serbia should have a new government in place by June 16 following coalition talks set for next week, Aleksandar Vucic, the Prime Minister-designate, said on Friday.

Vucic and an alliance led by his Serbian Progressive Party won an April 24 election with 48.24 percent of the vote, securing a comfortable majority of 131 deputies in the 250-seat parliament.

Although the result would allow his alliance to rule alone, Vucic wants a coalition partner to share responsibility for unpopular reforms, the implementation of a 1.2 billion euro (926.35 million pound) loan deal with the International Monetary Fund, and negotiations over European Union membership.

Vucic called an early election to cement his grip on power and secure a new four-year mandate to lead the country into the EU by 2020, as tentatively planned.

During a visit to a factory near Belgrade, Vucic said he would meet the Socialists, led by outgoing Foreign Minister Ivica Dacic, on Monday, and then talk to four other parliamentary factions and the representatives of national minorities, aiming to have a government in place by June 16.

"By the end of next week we will know who will be in the government ... and perhaps complete the appointment of the government by June 16," he told reporters.

The legal deadline for the creation of the government is Sept. 5.

Vucic did not specify whether he would again form a coalition with the Socialists, as widely expected.

"I want a stable and unified government ... and if anyone wants to enter the government and push it this way or that way, then he should not bother to enter it," he said.

Although the previous cabinet was generally stable throughout its two years in office, there were tensions between the Progressives and the Socialists, who favour closer ties with Russia and sometimes opposed Vucic's austerity policies.

The IMF is expected to send a mission to Serbia to check compliance with the terms of the loan deal in mid-June. In February it said it would complete its fourth review of the deal only after the new government is in place.

(Reporting by Aleksandar Vasovic; Editing by Giles Elgood/Jeremy Gaunt)


 Reuters International