Serbia’s Vucic Names Defense Chief Vucevic as Premier-Designate

(Bloomberg) -- Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic proposed his ally and deputy prime minister as the country’s new government leader, more than three months after a general election cemented his hold on power.

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Milos Vucevic, 49, who also serves as the defense minister, will take the post held until recently by Ana Brnabic, another Vucic loyalist. He is expected to put together a cabinet composed of members of the ruling center-right Progressive Party and several allied groups that control a comfortable majority in the Balkan nation’s assembly.

December’s snap election extended the Progressive party’s dominance in a result that was subject to allegations of irregularities and unfair conditions. The ruling party failed to prevail in a parallel, municipal race in the capital of Belgrade, prompting a likely re-run in June, after recurring protests in the capital city.

“I give my confidence to Milos Vucevic, bearing in mind that in the preceding period he performed responsible and demanding functions as deputy premier and defense minister,” Vucic said on Instagram.

Vucevic rose through the ranks of the Progressive Party, having served as the mayor of the northern Serbian city of Novi Sad, the country’s third largest, before joining Brnabic’s cabinet. Last year, he took over from Vucic as the party chief.

Choosing Vucevic signals Vucic will press ahead with Serbia’s effort to balance its aspiration to join the European Union while maintaining ties with Russia and China. The defense chief accompanied Vucic on key foreign trips, including to China in October, where he met with General Zhang Youxia, vice chairman of China’s Central Military Commission.

Serbia has relied on China and Russia to prevent full international recognition of Kosovo, a former province whose sovereignty Belgrade has disputed. Kosovo declared independence in 2008.

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