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Nesbitt: We'll top Assembly polls; ELECTION 2016 COUNTDOWN Ulster Unionist raps 'arrogance' of SF and DUP.

Byline: DAVID YOUNG

ULSTER Unionist leader Mike Nesbitt yesterday predicted his party could top the polls at the Assembly election.

Making the claim as he launched the UUP's manifesto, the Strangford MLA accused the DUP and Sinn Fein of "arrogance" for portraying the battle to secure the First Minister's seat as a two-horse race.

After the Democratic Unionists emerged as the largest party in 2011 with 38 seats and the UUP came third on 16, a huge electoral turnaround would be required for Mr Nesbitt to emerge victorious on May 5, particu-larly as the party is only fielding 33 candidates. But the claim was in tune with a manifesto launch in Belfast that proclaimed the UUP as a reinvigorated force.

Mr Nesbitt said: "We are fighting like any other party, we are fighting to win.

"I think there is a certain arrogance in other parties saying it is either A or B for First Minister."

Accusing the DUP and Sinn Fein of mismanaging the Assembly, he asked: "Does anyone really want more of the same? Another five years of failure?" The UUP walked out of the executive last autumn amid a crisis sparked by an IRA-linked killing.

Mr Nesbitt said Sinn Fein's position on the terror group was not a precondition for his party returning to power.

He added the decision to enter the executive would be based on whether a "progressive" programme for government is negotiated after the poll.

irish@mgn.co.uk

CAPTION(S):

MANIFESTO Mike Nesbitt yesterday

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Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Apr 15, 2016
Words:250
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