March 7, 2018 / 9:22 AM / 10 days ago

Slovak PM to talk with coalition partners to shore up government

BRATISLAVA (Reuters) - Slovak Prime Minister Robert Fico will hold talks next week with coalition partners, including the Most-Hid party which wants the interior minister sacked, in a bid to shore up his government.

Slovakian Prime Minister Robert Fico speaks during the news conference at the Chancellery in Berlin, Germany, April 3, 2017. REUTERS/Hannibal Hanschke

Slovakia was thrown into crisis when an investigative journalist was shot dead at the end of February. President Andrej Kiska has called for a government revamp or early election to rebuild public trust.

Two opposition parties said on Wednesday they would trigger a no-confidence vote against Fico in the parliament where his three-party coalition holds 78 seats in the 150-member chamber.

Opponents need 76 lawmakers to win a vote and topple the government, but this would not trigger a snap election. The government could be threatened if Most-Hid withdrew support but might survive with backing from the far-right People’s Party (LSNS).

“We will offer solutions so that Most can continue in government. I am aware of the reality and I am ready to discuss things,” he told a news conference, adding that he would meet Most-Hid leader Bela Bugar on Monday.

He said the president’s call for a revamped government or early election “aimed at changing the power balance in the country and deny the results of parliamentary elections.”

Fico, who accused the president of siding with the opposition, said he would hold talks with the other coalition partner, Slovak National Party (SNS), after meeting Bugar.

Most-Hid has called for the sacking of Interior Minister Robert Kalinak, a close ally of Fico in the Smer party they founded. SNS has not announced its position on the minister’s fate.

The death of investigative reporter Jan Kuciak, found murdered with his fiancee on Feb. 25, rocked the nation. Kuciak had been looking into suspected mafia links among Italian businessmen in eastern Slovakia.

One of the subjects in Kuciak’s last article had past links to two people who went on to work in Fico’s office. Both have resigned and denied any connection to the killing.

Thousands of people marched in support of Kuciak in the capital Bratislava and other cities on Friday. More protests are planned this Friday to demand a “new trustworthy government”.

The interior minister has faced previous calls to quit. Last year, thousands protested to demand Kalinak’s resignation over ties he had with a developer investigated for tax fraud. Both denied any wrongdoing.

Reporting by Tatiana Jancarikova; Editing by Janet Lawrence and Edmund Blair

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