Ex-PM ousted as Croatia opposition leader

2012-05-21 13:59
Zagreb - Croatia's former Prime Minister Jadranka Kosor was replaced as leader of the corruption-plagued HDZ opposition party by former intelligence chief Tomislav Karamarko in an election on Monday.

At the marathon meeting that started on Sunday, Karamarko was backed by 971 out of 1 845 HDZ delegates, according to national radio.

Karamarko, who is also a former interior minister, is the HDZ's fourth president since it was founded in 1989 ahead of Croatia's independence from the former Yugoslavia.

A total of five candidates, including Kosor, ran for the post with Karamarko and Milan Kujundzic, a physician and a newcomer on political scene, making it into second round of the vote.

Analysts say that the election of the 52-old Karamarko is likely to push the conservative party further to the right

Plagued by corruption

The HDZ lost general elections last December to a centre-left coalition amid corruption scandals involving some of its top officials and over its failure to address economic hardship in the Balkan country.

Although Kosor stepped up the anti-graft fight, a key demand for Croatia's bid to join the European Union, it backfired against her own party.

Her predecessor and former longtime HDZ head Ivo Sanader is being tried for corruption, in affairs worth more than $15m, and the party itself is also on trial over alleged slush funds set up with embezzled money.

The HDZ had ruled Croatia almost continuously since its 1991 independence until its defeat in an election last year.

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