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IN SHORTS

Kukan and Mečiar lead presidential poll

FOREIGN Minister Eduard Kukan is most likely to become the next Slovak president in the direct election in 2004, according to a February poll carried out by the Manager and Marketing Service (MMS).

Kukan, already nominated by his party, the Slovak Democratic and Christian Union (SDKÚ), is supported by 20.1 percent of citizens, the poll showed. Opposition HZDS chairman and former PM Vladimír Mečiar was second with 12.2 per cent, and Slovakia's chief negotiator with the EU, Ján Figeľ, won 5.8 per cent support.

Some 5.6 per cent of respondents said they would vote for opposition Smer party chairman Robert Fico, and current president Rudolf Schuster garnered 5 per cent support.

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