March 16, 2020 / 2:03 PM / 24 days ago

Slovak president Caputova to appoint new government on March 21

BRATISLAVA (Reuters) - Slovak President Zuzana Caputova will appoint a new center-right government led by Prime Minister Igor Matovic on March 21, she said on Monday.

FILE PHOTO: Slovakia's President Zuzana Caputova is pictured after casting her vote during the country's parliamentary election, in Pezinok, Slovakia February 29, 2020. REUTERS/David W Cerny

Matovic, 46, whose opposition OLANO party won a Feb. 29 election, has put together a coalition with three other parties that will command a majority in the Slovak parliament.

OLANO’s main election pledge was to reduce graft and sever ties between the outgoing government and business, but Matovic said the coronavirus epidemic demanded a smooth handover and cooperation with the outgoing administration.

“Slovakia is at a turning point. Now our only interest is to cope with the coronavirus crisis,” Matovic told reporters after meeting the president.

He said the new government would not make immediate personnel changes at ministries.

The administration will comprise the politically diverse OLANO and three smaller parties - Sme Rodina (We are Family), a socially conservative and eurosceptic party; SaS (Freedom and Solidarity), an economically liberal party; and Za Ludi (For the People), a mildly conservative party led by former president Andrej Kiska.

The new government will take over from the center-left Smer party which has ruled for 12 of the past 14 years.

Matovic said on Friday that OLANO would hold the euro zone country’s finance ministry while SAS leader Richard Sulik would become economy minister.

OLANO is a politically amorphous, pro-EU and pro-NATO movement that drew attention to what it called the “mafia” connections of the outgoing government. It surged in polls just before the election to win a quarter of the vote.

Fighting the coronavirus, Slovakia has banned international passenger travel, closed schools and most shops. It has reported 63 cases of the coronavirus and no deaths.

Reporting by Tomas Mrva; Editing by Alex Richardson and Ed Osmond

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