March 18, 2018 / 1:43 PM / 4 months ago

Incoming Slovak PM expects to name new ministers in coming week

BRATISLAVA (Reuters) - Slovakia’s ruling coalition aims to select new ministers this week, incoming Prime Minister Peter Pellegrini said on Sunday as the government seeks to navigate its way through a political crisis sparked by the murder of a journalist.

Outgoing Slovak Prime Minister Robert Fico and his successor Peter Pellegrini are seen during the ceremony of tendering resignation by Fico and appointing Pellegrini for the post, at the Presidential Palace in Bratislava, Slovakia, March 15, 2018. REUTERS/David W. Cerny

Long-serving Prime Minister Robert Fico resigned last Thursday after his leftist Smer party and coalition partners agreed to hand the reins to his deputy after the murder of an investigative journalist provoked the country’s biggest protests since the fall of communism. Fico’s interior minister also quit this week.

However, the government revamp aimed at keeping the three-party coalition in power failed to quell public anger and tens of thousands of Slovaks rallied across the country for a third consecutive Friday, demanding early elections.

Organizers of the protests on Friday called for a non-partisan nominee as new interior minister to ensure unbiased investigation of the death of Jan Kuciak, 27, and his fiancee, who were found shot dead at home last month.

Speaking on privately-owned Markiza TV on Sunday, Pellegrini said he wants a non-polarizing government and does not want a long-time member of the ruling Smer party or a person with limited experience to be appointed as interior minister.

“I want to inform the president on ministers’ names tomorrow or Tuesday and I want parliament to start discussion on the new government’s program on Tuesday or Wednesday,” Pellegrini said.

According to a coalition deal between the Smer party, the ethnic Hungarian centrist Most-Hid party and center-right Slovak National Party, each will be allowed to pick their ministers.

Smer’s Peter Kazimir is expected to remain as finance minister.

Reporting By Tatiana Jancarikova; Editing by Michael Kahn and David Goodman

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