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Zoran Zivkovic Nominated to Serve as Serbia's Next PM - 2003-03-17

Serbia's parliament is scheduled to meet Tuesday to name a successor to Prime Minister Zoran Djindjic, who was assassinated last week. On Sunday Mr. Djindjic's Democratic Party nominated Zoran Zivkovic, vice president of the Democratic Party, to serve as Serbia's next prime minister.

The Democratic Party and its allies hold a slight majority in the Serbian assembly, which makes it likely that 42-year-old Zoran Zivkovic will be selected to succeed Mr. Djindjic, who died last Wednesday after being shot by a sniper outside a government building in Belgrade.

Mr. Zivkovic, a former mayor of the city of Nis, became Yugoslavia's federal interior minister after the democratic opposition toppled the regime of Slobodan Milosevic in late 2000.

Mr. Zivkovic has already pledged to continue with democratic and economic reforms, yet observers warn this may become difficult as divisions within the coalition are likely to re-emerge once the shock of Mr. Djindic's death begins to wane.

If he is selected, one of Mr. Zivkovic's first tasks will be to ease concern among foreign investors by tracking down all those involved in the assassination.

Officials realize this policy is not without risks, as Mr. Djindjic was apparently killed because of his tough measures against crime gangs that flourished under the Milosevic regime.

About 200 suspects have been arrested in recent days, including Mladan Micic, a key leader of the Zemun clan, the group that Serbian officials say organized the assassination.

Mr. Micic and six of his associates were arrested this weekend during a raid in a village 70 kilometers outside Belgrade. The authorities have also declared a state of emergency, which gives increased powers to the government and the military.