The leader of Croatia's main oppositional party announced his resignation as party president Wednesday due to health problems, said reports reaching here from the Croatian capital Zagreb.
Ivica Racan, leader of the Social Democratic Party of Croatia (SDP), said that he was faced with a serious illness and continued his fight for life, the Croatian news agency HINA reported.
"I did my best. Hereby I resign to the post of party president, leaving you to continue without me. Find new strength at an electoral convention," Racan said in a statement.
Racan, 63, announced in February that he was temporarily withdrawing from politics, after he was diagnosed with cancer. His health worsened in early April and new checkups showed the cancer spread to his brain after doctors removed a cancerous kidney and a metastasis in his right shoulder in a German hospital in mid- February.
His resignation is expected to harm the SDP's prospects in parliamentary elections set for November as Racan has been en emblem of the party and no other party member has reached his popularity.
The SDP has been ranked just behind the ruling Croatian Democratic Union in most polls.
Party officials including Racan's deputy Zeljka Antunovic, Ljubo Jurcic and Milan Bandic are being mentioned by the Croatian media as possible successors.
Racan was a leader of Croatia's communist party, reforming it into the pro-Western center-left SDP after the collapse of Yugoslavia in the early 1990s. He also served as Croatian prime minister in between 2000 and 2003.