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article imageSlovak president refuses new cabinet

By AFP     Mar 20, 2018 in Politics

Slovak President Andrej Kiska refused Tuesday to approve a proposed new government, insisting a more stable line-up was needed to ease tensions after the last prime minister quit in a scandal over the murder of a journalist.

Kiska said he had rejected the line-up proposed by acting prime minister Peter Pellegrini, whose predecessor Robert Fico quit last week.

"I told him I would not appoint the cabinet line-up that he has proposed," Kiska told reporters. He said he had given Pellegrini until Friday to propose a new team.

Pellegrini "has to create a stable government, whose composition, especially regarding the position of the minister of interior, can calm the tense atmosphere in our society," the president said.

Pellegrini responded quickly by presenting a new name for interior minister: former Slovak Post CEO Tomas Drucker who is non-partisan but was chosen to become health minister in 2016 by Fico and Pellegrini's Smer-SD party.

"We have decided that we will do everything we can to make the situation in Slovakia calmer. Slovakia can not afford to go weeks without a government that does not have a parliamentary majority,ʺ Pellegrini told journalists.

He was chosen last week to lead a three-party coalition government in place of his ally Fico.

Fico resigned after journalist Jan Kuciak's death sparked anti-government protests and raised concern about media freedom and corruption.

Kuciak and his fiancee, both 27, were found shot dead last month in their home near Bratislava.

Police said the killing was "most likely" related to his investigation into alleged ties between top politicians and Italian mafia.

Pellegrini's proposed line-up showed little change. Kiska indirectly criticised his first interior minister nominee for having close ties to the man he was to replace.

Pellegrini had proposed health ministry official Jozef Raz to take over as interior minister from Robert Kalinak, who resigned because of the political crisis.

Raz had attended Kalinak's 40th birthday party and told local media that they knew each other through the motorbike scene.

"The last thing we need is a discussion of who was motorcycling with whom or attending whose birthday parties," Kiska had said Tuesday.

He added that the new cabinet must "be able to convince the public that it will secure an independent and impartial investigation of the murder of Jan Kuciak and Martina Kusnirova, as well as on the suspicions regarding organised crime that the murdered journalist was writing about."

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