Serbian President Boris Tadic has said he intends to resign 10 months before the end of his term, clearing the way for joint parliamentary and presidential elections in May.
Tadic told reporters on Wednesday that he would formally submit his resignation to the speaker of the Serbian parliament on Thursday.
Analysts say Tadic’s pro-European Democratic Party is banking on the president’s personal popularity to boost the party’s vote in the parliamentary poll, already set for May 6, when he stands for re-election.
Since 2008, Tadic has steered Serbia to European Union candidate status and overseen the capture and deportation of the country’s last fugitive war crimes suspects.
But he is unpopular with many Serbian nationalists, who hold him responsible for the breakaway of Kosovo during his presidency.
Tadic is expected to face a strong challenge from Tomislav Nikolic, the leader of the nationalist Radical Party.
Dukic Dejanovic, the speaker of the parliament, will take over as Serbia’s acting president as soon as Tadic resigns.