(Reuters) - Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert will hand his resignation to President Shimon Peres on Sunday, but could stay on for weeks or months until a new government is formed.
Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni succeeded Olmert as leader of the centrist Kadima party in an internal election on Wednesday. The following are mechanics of how Livni may, or may not, become prime minister.
— Even after Olmert tenders his resignation to Peres, he will remain in office as caretaker prime minister until a new government is established through a coalition deal or a parliamentary election.
— To form a government, Livni will need a formal mandate to do so from Peres. The head of state can take up to 14 days to grant it after hearing recommendations on who should form a government from all the factions in the 120-seat parliament.
Peres is due to leave for New York on Monday to attend the U.N. General Assembly, but aides have said he could delay his departure and hold consultations with faction leaders.
— Once nominated, Livni, or whoever else Peres nominates, will have 42 days to conclude a coalition deal with other parties. Failure could technically lead to Peres mandating someone else to go through the same process but further failure would trigger an election.
* Olmert could avoid spending time as caretaker prime minister by taking a leave of absence, a scenario political commentators see as unlikely. In such a case, his first deputy, Livni, would take over as acting prime minister for up to 100 days and could then ease into the job at the head of the current coalition.
* Kadima has 29 members in parliament, and depends on the 19 seats of the Labour party, led by Defence Minister Ehud Barak, for the core of a coalition. If Barak or others refuse to follow Livni, then parliament, which reconvenes on October 26, could vote to dissolve itself. An election would then have to be held within five months. More probably it would be in early 2009, although the next election is scheduled to take place in 2010.
Editing by Myra MacDonald