Slovakia’s PM resigns amid scandal over murder of journalist

slovakia PM

Slovakia’s PM resigns amid scandal over murder of journalist

Robert Fico’s position became untenable after coalition partners withdrew from government

Slovakia’s prime minister, Robert Fico, has resigned after more than two weeks of political turmoil and public protests sparked by the murder of an investigative journalist.

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The country’s president, Andrej Kiska, accepted the resignation at a ceremony and mandated Fico’s deputy, Peter Pellegrini, to form a new government.

The position of Fico, who served as prime minister for 10 of the past 12 years, appeared untenable after one of his junior coalition partners announced this week that it would withdraw from the government and support early elections unless he went. He agreed to resign on Wednesday after two days of talks with coalition leaders.

“I told the president: ‘Rest assured, I’m not leaving politics, I want to be an active party leader,’” Fico told a news conference on Thursday. “My role will be to have the new prime minister’s back and push for priorities that are important for [his party] Smer: a clear pro-European and pro-Nato orientation.”

Fico’s resignation comes weeks into a political crisis sparked by the murder in February of Jan Kuciak and his fiancee, Martina Kušnírová. Kuciak had been investigating alleged mafia infiltration into the country, with questions raised about Fico’s judgment after it emerged that one of his close aides, was the former business partner of an alleged member of the Calabrian ’Ndrangheta clan.

Fico caused unease in some quarters in the immediate aftermath of the murders with a misjudged press conference during which he posed with €1m in cash and appeared to imply that he had taken personal control of the investigation.

 

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