Croatian Parliament Accepts PM's Unexplained Resignation

Croatian lawmakers accepted the resignation of Prime Minister Ivo Sanader Thursday, but were left without any explanation of his unexpected move.

Sanader, who won his second mandate 19 months ago, resigned on Wednesday. He said he had decided to quit politics and insisted the reason was not the growing economic crisis and the country's deadlocked bid to join the European Union.

In the 153-seat chamber, 118 deputies voted to support Sanader's resignation. One voted against and two abstained.

President Stipe Mesic will now appoint a prime minister-designate, who will have to be approved by parliament. If that fails, new elections must be called.

Sanader has already nominated his longtime deputy, Jadranka Kosor, as his potential successor.

In the debate preceding the vote, opposition lawmakers insisted that early elections should be called immediately, arguing that Sanader's ruling Croatian Democratic Union has lost credibility.

Sanader refused to appear in parliament, sending only a terse resignation letter in a move that prompting opposition protests.

"No one has ever resigned in the middle of a mandate without any specific explanation," said a leader of the People's Party, Vesna Pusic. "He should have come here."

At the Cabinet session earlier in the day, Sanader told ministers he expected a smooth and quick transfer of power to Kosor, to avoid speculation or early elections.

He insisted that there is "no need" for elections, saying the governing coalition will continue his work.