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Serbia's new president to discuss naming next PM next week

Associated Press logo Associated Press 1/06/2017
Serbia's President Aleksandar Vucic waves during an inauguration ceremony, in Belgrade, Serbia, Wednesday, May 31, 2017. Vucic has been sworn in as Serbia's president, telling his supporters that he will work on peace and stability in the Balkans.(AP Photo/Darko Vojinovic) © The Associated Press Serbia's President Aleksandar Vucic waves during an inauguration ceremony, in Belgrade, Serbia, Wednesday, May 31, 2017. Vucic has been sworn in as Serbia's president, telling his supporters that he will work on peace and stability in the Balkans.(AP Photo/Darko Vojinovic)

BELGRADE, Serbia — Serbia's new president, Aleksandar Vucic, said Thursday he will open talks next week on who will become the next prime minister after he resigned the post to assume the presidency.

Vucic said he will discuss the issue with the representatives of parliamentary parties before making the decision. In Serbia, the president nominates a prime minister-designate who then needs parliamentary approval.

The populist Vucic is widely expected to appoint a loyalist and maintain control of the government even as he moves into the largely ceremonial presidential position. His Serbian Progressive Party holds the majority in Serbia's 250-member parliament.

A former extreme nationalist who now says he wants Serbia to join the European Union, Vucic was sworn in as president Wednesday after sweeping the election in April.

Vucic on Thursday went to an army barracks in Pancevo, outside Belgrade, the capital, where the Serbian military received a U.S. donation of 19 Humvee vehicles.

In his speech on Wednesday, Vucic said he wants to boost Serbia's defenses, while staying out of any military alliance. He also has been strengthening ties with Serbia's traditional ally, Russia, which has agreed to supply fighter jets and battle tanks.

Opposition groups accuse Vucic of imposing an autocratic rule.

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