Slovak president rejects proposed government shuffle, wants new names

President of Slovakia Andrej Kiska attends a news conference after a meeting with Slovak deputy Prime Minister Peter Pellegrini, at the Presidential Palace in Bratislava, Slovakia, March 15, 2018. David W. Cerny/Reuters

BRATISLAVA (Reuters) - Slovak President Andrej Kiska rejected prime minister-designate Peter Pellegrini’s proposed cabinet on Tuesday and asked for new nominations by Friday, calling stronger government changes to calm a political crisis provoked by the murder of a journalist.

Slovakia has seen its largest mass protests since the peaceful overthrow of communism almost three decades ago after investigative reporter Jan Kuciak and his fiancee were shot dead in their home last month.

The protesters took to the streets to demand new elections and guarantees of a fair investigation into the death of Kuciak, 27, who had been investigating businessmen with political ties suspected of corruption.

Prime Minister Robert Fico resigned last week to keep the three-party government afloat. He proposed his Smer party colleague and deputy prime minister Pellegrini to lead the new cabinet.

Pellegrini presented his proposed cabinet to the president on Monday, putting forward a non-partisan official as interior minister in a bid to meet protest demands.

“(Pellegrini) has to convince (people) that the new government will bring about changes that we are expecting. He has to create a stable government, whose composition, especially at the interior ministry, will be able to calm the tense atmosphere in our society,” Kiska said in a televised statement.

Reporting by Tatiana Jancarikova and Jason Hovet, Editing by Angus MacSwan