Tuesday, January 04, 2005

Žužul (Zuzul) Resigns and Hebrang To Leave Soon

Few hours Radio 101 from Zagreb broke the news about Miomir Žužul (Miomir Zuzul), Croatian foreign minister, tending his resignation to prime minister Ivo Sanader. Few minutes ago HINA news agency has confirmed the news and added that Sanader accepted the resignation.

Žužul, one of Sanader's closest associates and most trusted allies within the party, was the subject of corruption scandal that almost brought down Sanader's government few months ago. Žužul was one of HDZ leaders most loyal to Sanader and was often seen as one of the more liberal and moderate members of that party. However, Žužul in past few years developed very close ties with US business corporations and Bush administration. He was often seen as Bush's man in Croatian government and, that, together with his lobbying for Bechtel corporation before HDZ return to power, made him into the least liked member of Sanader's cabinet. When details about a certain business deal involving Žužul's family went public, opposition parties launched inititative for Žužul's removal. With some of smaller parties and independent candidates joining this initiative, it looked that Sanader's tiny majority in Sabor will collapse. It took a lot of horse trading for Sanader to rescue his minister.

For a while it looked like Žužul has survived this ordeal, but the surprisingly bad results for Jadranka Kosor on presidential election and huge anti-corruption sentiment expressed in the support for Mikšić apparently made Sanader change his mind. Žužul has explained his decision with "personal reasons", though.

Another important Sanader's ally to leave is Andrija Hebrang, health minister and unofficial leader of hard-line nationalist faction within HDZ. Hebrang, a son of prominent Croatian Communist leader who had died in mysterious circumstances in late 1940s and later became a nationalist martyr, was one of the most loyal supporters of Tudjman, health minister and chief of the medical team which prolonged Croatian president's life for at least few years. Hebrang was also one of the least popular politicians in Croatia, partly because of his constant feud with newspaper and public, partly because Croatian healthcare disastrously declined during his tenure. His recent decision to have a prostate surgery in Austria brought enormous salvo of criticism.

However, it seems that Hebrang indeed had good reasons to have that surgery. In one talk show few days ago he announced that he was very ill and that he would have to step down very soon.

Both of those departures could, to a certain degree, benefit Kosor in the second round of election.


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