Wednesday, 26 September, 2018

Slovakian interior minister resigns after street protests over murdered journalist Jan Kuciak

Protesters holds placards bearing faceted portraits of Slovakia's Prime Minister Robert Foco and Foreign Minister Robert Kalinak during a rally under the slogan For a Decent Slovakia against corruption and to pay tribute to murdered Slovak journalist Jan Slovak Interior Minister Steps Down After Journalist's Murder AFP 2018 JOE KLAMAR
Patty Aguilar | 13 March, 2018, 11:13

"We think that only early elections would solve this situation", said Bela Bugar, chairman of Most-Hid on Monday evening after an eight-hour internal party discussion.

Fico´s Smer-SD party, to which Kalinak also belongs, came under fire from small coalition partner Most-Hid, which threatened to quit if the minister stayed, questioning the impartiality of the investigations under Kalinak´s lead.

"We believe that only early elections would solve this situation", Bugar said after a meeting of his party's leadership that took nearly eight hours.

Robert Kalinak's resignation comes amid social and political turmoil sparked by last month's murder of investigative journalist Jan Kuciak who had been probing links between the government and the Italian mafia.

Echoing Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban, Fico has accused foreign forces of trying to destabilize Slovakia and has questioned the president's meetings with financier George Soros in NY a year ago. "For this reason I have made a decision to resign as deputy prime minister and interior minister".

Fico's coalition holds 78 of the 150 seats in parliament.

Failure to keep Most-Hid's support could spell the end of Fico's government.

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SNS and Smer are expected to react to Most-Hid's decision on Tuesday, Slovak news websites reported.

Bugar's announcement means the government created after the 2016 general election could fall apart soon.

He said he would seek a deal for the coalition to call an early election on its own terms. They need 76 votes to topple the government.

Slovakia has prospered in the past decade, joining the eurozone and growing at one of the fastest rates in Europe, but many see Fico as having failed to fight graft and cronyism.

Echoing Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban, Fico has accused foreign forces of trying to destabilise Slovakia and has questioned the president's meetings with financier George Soros in NY a year ago.

An estimated 50,000 people rallied in Bratislava on March 10 and thousands more in other cities to demand the resignation of Fico's cabinet and a full investigation of Kuciak and his fiance's deaths.

The death of Mr Kuciak, who probed fraud cases involving politically-connected businessmen, has stoked public anger over persistent corruption allegations and pushed Mr Fico's government towards collapse. Before he was killed, he had been investigating Italian businessmen in Slovakia with suspected mafia links.

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