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Slovak PM's ally resigns amid political crisis

13 March 2018

- A political crisis in Slovakia set off by the slayings of an investigative journalist and his fiancee deepened Monday when a junior party in the governing coalition called for resolving the situation by holding early elections.

Most-Hid party Chairman Bela Bugar said Monday that if the two coalition partners don't agree to negotiate the early vote, Most-Hid would be ready to walk.

The junior nationalist coalition party SNS said on Monday that it could accept either early elections or a cabinet reshuffle.

Bugar's announcement means the government created after the 2016 general election could fall apart soon. They were the biggest protests in Slovakia since the 1989 anti-communist Velvet Revolution.

Should Most-Hid, a centrist group that represents the ethnic Hungarian minority in Slovakia, pull out of the ruling coalition, Fico will be forced to rule as part of a minority government that would need to rely on the backing of far-right lawmakers - something Fico's Smer party opposes.

Kalinak was one of the founding members of Fico's Smer-SD party, and held the post of interior minister during ten of the last twelve years.

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In statements, Kalinak made clear that he wanted to "preserve the stability in Slovakia".

The organizers of the protests said the interior minister stepping down "must be only a beginning".

Robert Kalinak's resignation comes amid social and political turmoil sparked by last month's murder of investigative journalist Jan Kuciak who had been probing links between the government and the Italian mafia.

The slain journalist, Jan Kuciak, was writing about ties between the Italian mafia and people close to Fico when he and fiancee Martina Kusnirova were shot to death.

"It's important for stability to be maintained, therefore I chose to resign the post of deputy prime minister and interior minister", Kalinak said.

The Most-Hid pressure came despite the resignation earlier on Monday by interior minister Robert Kalinak.

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Slovak PM's ally resigns amid political crisis