( dpa ) - Montenegrin Prime Minister Zeljko Sturanovic announced Thursday that he is stepping down, in the face of a grave illness.
Sturanovic was diagnosed with lung cancer last year. He has taken over the first government in the independent Montenegro following the tiny republic's split from Serbia in mid-2006.
The 46-year-old economist said his therapy would not allow him to keep up with the workload of the office, and he would remain in place only until a successor is appointed.
The development may speed up the expected return of the long-time Montenegrin leader Milo Djukanovic to the cabinet.
Djukanovic had withdrawn from the government after polls in September 2006, but has remained as the head of the ruling Democratic Party of Socialists (DPS).
Speculation of Djukanovic's return to a governing position multiplied with a sharp dip in DPS popularity. Djukanovic had governed Montenegro for 15 years before receding into the background.